I’m cautious about reviewing poetry: it’s an esoteric art form with echoes of the world of the contemporary arts. In other words, a field full of the pretentious attempting to bamboozle the unwary, and too often succeeding. It differs from the world of visual art in the amount of cash thrown at it, of course, as well as in the larger proportion of real artists as opposed to con artists.
The poet of this slim volume (poetry is singularly fitted for the slim volume, since its density requires the reader to thoroughly immerse himself in the words in search of true meaning) came to me via my website. I’m often invited to review books by strangers. My default position is refusal, which may seem cruel, but it’s a necessary stance for a writer. I’d otherwise spend all my time reading and then writing reviews, which would prevent me creating my own works with words.
This book, however, engaged my imagination from the start. I’ve tried my hand at poetry from time to time; still do. I’ve even published a verse in a low circulation print collection put out by a writing group I belonged to way back in the 1970s. In common with many writers, I admire the skills of the poet. They offer dexterities with words that can often be imported into narrative with great effect. It is the ability of the poet to say so much using so few words that most impresses those of us who deal in prose.
The Junk Talk Poet says a good deal, very powerfully, about the ills of our society. These are the words of someone who cares, someone with a passionate view of the ills, evils and injustices of our world. And, in that view, I find a fellow traveller. As is inevitably the case with a volume of poetry, there are stanzas and poems which defy my abilities to deconstruct them: these few remain as enigmas awaiting my enlightenment. But most of the verse here is accessible, even to a reader with as little experience of the art as I possess.
The overarching mood of the poems here is one of pragmatic sadness at the folly and inequality of a way of life that deals so many a poor hand. I think my favourite is ‘The Meeting’, with its closing lines so full of what this book is really about. But there are many others that found me nodding in agreement, occasionally smiling with grim recognition of the dark humour.
This is not a book to relax with before bed, unless you prefer to follow the title and spend your night in the grip of bad dreams. But it is a considered and thoughtful comment on modern life in a world ruled by money, merchants and greed. The work will long live with me and I shall seek new writing by this poet.
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