One Hundred and Seven poems covering social commentary and human experience.
This review is only the opinion of one person. So, as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to the good stuff: Beck’s work.
Beck often does social commentary, and the opening poem, Pledge, is an interesting (and somewhat cynical) example. You will find this again in Punishment Camp. Beck has moved (imho) more strongly into communicating an experience, for example The Wonder of Birth, where we find this: “Children are stars /fallen from a dimness, /until the freedom thump….”
There are personal relationship experiences here, some of which are touchingly sad, as in Last Stop, where we find this: “Then you stood up with /your surprising thighs, /passed me like a woman strutting /before the passenger’s approving eyes /as I felt stripped naked,…”
Living in a mixed and perhaps unfriendly neighbourhood is captured in Remote Companions: “My neighbors’ faces are closed doors /and their forbidden apartments /leak sounds of mysterious events.” The poem goes on from there, believe me.
There is sex here, but it is not graphic while well done; for example in Construction Site we find this: “Shall I tell myself /my hands have never touched /the softness of your hips, /my mouth the aphrodisiac of your lips, /when they have learned to fit you?”
For another reflection on sex and love, turn to Past Yearnings, where Beck shows that he can rhyme very well when he chooses to do so.
Beck rhymes again in Lost Search, which is difficult to describe in a sentence. Buy the book and turn to this poem.
For a spin on voyeurism, turn to Peeper. Here Beck has close rhymes which seem natural, while conveying a personal experience.
I have reviewed Beck before. This is both like and unlike his earlier work. If you enjoyed Beck’s voice in earlier books, you’ll find that here too. But you will also find more ‘reach’ into your gut with conveyed experience. Some of these poems are complex; my notes include ‘reread this one’ at least a few times. Beck is worthy of your time and attention.
All that said, how do I come up with a star count? Here comes the boilerplate:
My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. Beck is maybe at four point four nine stars here, and that’s only one opinion. Your personal rating may well be higher. Four stars from this curmudgeon is a strong recommendation. I really enjoyed reading this book.
Kindle Book Review Team member.
(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)