Cathy Porter review of Perturbations

Cathy Porter
Review of Perturbations by Gary Beck
Winter Goose Publishing 2017

While reading Gary Beck’s latest poetry collection, Perturbations, I’m drawn to comparisons to the latest release from Lizzy Goodman, “Meet Me In The Bathroom,” –covering the rebirth of rock in New York from 2001-2011, in the words of the musicians and players, big and small, who helped revitalize the scene during those crucial years in our history. What’s the connection? In both Mr. Beck’s recent collection and the Goodman book, I find an intriguing dynamic between the societal and the personal. In the Goodman book, the best sections are when various individuals discuss their emotions after 9/11 in the music community of New York. In Mr. Beck’s collection, the poems I find the most riveting are the ones where the author focuses on the personal, but always keeping in mind societal aspects of all of our lives. Reading the collection, I can see the skyline of Manhattan; imagine the characters as they maneuver through the grime of life.

The author moves in and out of life, love, and everyday chaos in a collection that feels more personal than previous works. In “Remote Companions,” the main character struggles with imagining others suffer as he does: “it’s hard to see our neighbors and friends/with the same torments.” I feel many of us, when going through various traumas, have a hard time realizing that we really are not that different from most people, and most of us DO suffer in life-just some more than others, but all eventually taking a turn. “Night Shift” takes a look at shift workers, and all who have worked “the odd hours.” As someone who used to work many “odd hours”, this poem has stayed with me, cemented in my brain. “Common Sparrow” is a definite highlight, and in my opinion, a wonderful love poem without coming off overtly sentimental or over the top: “I passed my hand/across the smoothness/of your freckled back”/. Beautiful. A nice break in a book that covers some familiar ground of society’s ills, and all the problems of living in a big city, dealing with love, loss and torment.

If you are familiar with Gary Beck’s work, I see no reason why this collection shouldn’t take your interest further. It is a bit different in terms of more poems dealing with the personal, but overall, it ties in nicely with his other releases. There is something here for everyone. A great collection that will hold your interest. Highly recommended.