Customer Reviews ()
Jim Bennett from Kindle Book Review Team member. Social observation in 108 poems. Part warning, part experience. Four stars Beck has titled this book appropriately. The tragedy of war is a recurring theme (among others, including inequality and public graft.) Turn to To a GI Who Never Read Pushkin for a strong exposure to Beck's voice. What happens to those left behind? Again, Images of Despair begins thus: "War veterans /with artificial limbs /waiting in line /at a soup kitchen." and ends with this: "...approved misery /is a painful surprise /in New York City." If you think that's a spoiler, buy the book and read the middle of this poem. In Hail to the Chief we find this: "The difference with Bush /was George W's righteousness..." Beck will make you think again about how you think about past leaders. In In My Lifetime IV: "and could not conceive /of a capitalist system /that relied on war /to nourish a nation." For a tour de force of the mishandling of unfortunates by New York City, turn to In My Lifetime VII. This poem will either make you ill or angry. That should be enough to give you a feel for Beck's work. Back to the star count. 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. I try hard to be consistent. Beck easily earns four stars with this collection. Your favourites may be different and your personal rating may well be higher.
Rajesh Subramanian from - Modern Literature. Evil has been an inescapable part of the human environment since time immemorial. Whether it originates from the Satan or otherwise, its tentacles have held humanity in a tight grip and there seems to be no way out. Men of letters, especially poets have always raised their alarm about this problem and philosophers have spent countless nights brooding over the issue. It is indeed sad that men are cast against men. Man's enemy today is not something extraterrestrial or God sent, but man himself. Men in power have set traps to make vulnerable fall into it and play along their evil designs. Countries drunk with power crush helpless nations into submission and servility. Weapons of mass destruction hunt down non-existent weapons of mass destruction and the collateral damage is immeasurable human suffering. Gary Beck's poems in this volume capture the decay of civilization, both at the individual level and the societal level. Often, while reading Gary Beck's poems, one cannot escape remember Charles Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil. The flowers of evil are strewn all around us, both rich and poor, mighty and weak. Most of Gary Beck's poems ( rather, almost all of them) are written in plain simple language. They are simple, straight-forward statements that sound like statement of facts or lines from a newspaper story. They are not adorned with any poetic embellishments. Probably they are intended to make the reader pause and ponder over why the poet had chosen to label simple terse statements as poems. The reader, when he ruminates over the simple statements, starts thinking about the deep social conundrums that the poet wants to paint vividly. When that happens, the poems succeed in their mission. Consider Media Gifts, prima facie, there is not much "depth" or "poetic structure" in the above example, other than a strong anguish at the state of social affairs. Most of the poems in this collection fall under the same category, expressing disappointment over the various social and global issues, about how USA is deteriorating in its values, about how wars have displaced people and families, how the governments play truant with peoples' lives etc. The below given poem also falls under the same category: Expanding Cemeteries The below poem, though "straight-forward" and direct, could also impel the reader to think widely and draw other inferences. Could even lead to philosophical thoughts like men "waiting for the big waves that never come" their way. That's where poems of this kind achieve their success, when they scrape past their apparent structure and deliver unexpected conclusions. Surf's Down Gary Beck is a well experienced author with many volumes of work to his credit. The subject volume Blossoms of Decay adds another feather to his cap.
Write a review