In his introduction to this volume (which is actually an excerpt from “Raw Realism A Poetry Manifesto”), Mr. Beck lauds the French symbolist poets and the Beats as groundbreakers in free verse. These frontrunners of their forms were never appreciated until after their times had passed. I think it is fitting that this poet gives a well-deserved nod to the greats since his work, like theirs, shows that the poet takes risks in his writing…risks which he pulls off successfully.
This volume of poems is comprised largely of poems concerning social commentary of our times. He shows us how man is more concerned about egos and material possessionsthan mankind’s well-being (“Surrender”), (“The Way of The World”). In “Loss”, he says that “hopes have been curdled by too much desire for material things.”
He gives us a realistic yet bleak outlook of what technology and nuclear capability have done to civilization and human existence, not merely for shock value, but for a genuine wake-up call to all of us who care about life on this planet. In “Evolution”, he tells us that we are “a civilization gone entirely mad” but that all is not hopeless. If we still maintain faith, we can hold out against injustice (“Tyranny”), (“Eternal Struggle”), and in“The 20th Century,” the speaker reminds us that it was “the most inventive century,” yet ironically the same one which has enabled war and mass destruction.
All is not so bleak in Mr. Beck’s poems. There is optimism in “Youthful Song” in which he is “led by newfound power I sing of spring and vision greatness” while in the past, he “only gradually saw” such a vision. But we are cautioned, because in the poet’s view, redemption is not to be found in education, of which he is critical in “Adult Education,” citing “student’s vacuity” and “teacher’s indifference, the waste of passion.”
The social commentary motif is tempered well with pieces that seem more personal in nature, such as “Uplift,” “Inamorata,” “Seduced,” “Inertia” and “Flashback”. Thematically, this gives the reader a nice juxtaposition to those poems that carry a more foreboding tone.
Such a balance provides the reader with an overarching volume that covers topically important issues, while at the same time allowing a glimpse into a poet’s innermost feelings.
By Jill Lapin-Zell
Author of Vanishing Into Life
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