By: Gary Beck
Winter Goose Publishing, 2018
Review by: Cathy Porter
Being called prolific can be deceiving; on one hand, it can mean an abundance of quality work. On the other, it can signal an artist/writer who is putting out an abundance of work – period.
Gary Beck is the former. He is prolific, producing an abundance of quality work.
In his latest collection, Rude Awakenings, Gary goes inward, focusing more on personal thoughts and relationships. From ‘Random Fragments”: “although I know mortality/ I never think it’s meant for me.” A truly personal, yet universal, sentiment. There is also a nice use of rhyme in some of the poems, such as “As You Grow, Stranger,” “Ode to Myself” and “Doomed Children”, citing a few examples, as well as a great example of how to compose an emblematic poem — along with another fine use of rhyme — in “Trickle Down Effect.” Love and eroticism are given their due in the poems ‘Love Song” and “Clinging” – poems that tackle the complexity of love and loss, such as these lines from “Clinging”: “her long body/curled on the tired sheet/ licked my hand with her softness/ but promised no tomorrows” – an excellent example of the complexity of loving someone, but knowing they are never truly “yours” forever.
Many of the poems center around New York City, which makes sense as the poet is based in New York, and have a nice, smooth feeling of a city brimming with fears and desires, but never losing hope, even in the midst of chaos and pain. The collection ends with “Random Fragments” – the poem mentioned earlier – a mash-up of sorts, with a great line in the middle that should be a chill-out lesson for the world today: “cigarettes are discouraged/but sex is encouraged.” Not a bad way to ease the stress of a world overflowing with anger. In all, a collection that is diverse, yet stays true to its core message that truth, hope, and love do not have to be strangers.