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Midwest Book Review from Amazon.com (review for 1st Edition). Written by an accomplished poet, playwright, essayist, and documentary director, "Expectations" is a volume of Gary Becks poetry showcasing his own unique approach to utilizing free form verse to explore how ordinary people in extraordinary times deal with the conflicting demands of their lives. Penned by a superbly gifted wordsmith, Beck's poetry is as original as it is memorable. "Expectations" is very highly recommended and rewarding reading. 'Serena': Serena, withered / sits among swollen grape vines / bursting purpose spurts of potency / dreaming of a back seat / in another life / when a migrant hand / plucked the ripeness of her breast / a ravenous traveler / lusting a land of opulence. / Serena turned into a pair of shears / rusting in an orchard.
MH Clay, Poetry Editor Mad Swirl from . Expectations! We start off with great ones, don't we? The American experience typically inaugurates our young with a high school diploma, an inspiring speech and a send off. "Go out and do great things! We have high expectations for you all." Then comes life and reality tweaks our expectations, sometimes turns them on end or deflates them entirely. What is this phenomenon? How does this happen? In Expectations, Gary Beck chronicles his own journey through life; shares the coming of age of his expectations. The very first poem, Abandoned, begins with the chronicler abandoned on a deserted road, with only his wits to guide him - he is Everyman, speaking for us all. His expectations have changed through the disillusionments of his road, which have morphed into numerous indictments of our American sensibilities; I Sing My Land, Idolatry, Extravagance, Profit, Remembrance - each poem is a chapter; a header to this literary textbook on American Social Decay. Gary Beck takes us through many chapters of his life experience. His imagery and ideas are stark, sharp and impossible to misconstrue; this life holds nothing but false realities, market-derived comforts, no substance. A verse from Remembrance is a fine example: So suck contentment like a sponge Hesitate before the final plunge Hide behind our drab diversions And pray, pray the universe is stable Ouch! Many of us struggle with that lurking doubt about the genuineness of the American dream. Some of us are old enough to remember the indoctrination that the world is our oyster, but few would speak up to say, "Must not have been harvested in an r month." Gary Beck is not afraid to say it out loud and in crisp language. He strips illusion from everything. Here are a few examples of his adeptness: In Renaissance, he presents tenets of faith that mouth empty promises, impossible to fulfill. Then shows how reason, unconstrained by faith, offers some hope of self-determination, but leads to the same emptiness. So, where is the hope, the humanity? He sees it in the simplest things; uncovering acts of charity in a proffered can of beer in Charity; the crossing of a girl's legs in Underground Regrets; the foibles of adolescent education, contrary to curriculum, in Does Noble Caesar Cackle?; the joyous experiments in sexuality in I Still Remember and Discovery. But, he has also seen the horrors of war; exposed it for the moneymaking monster that it is. He describes the absurdity of viewing war as a sporting event in Recon in Viet Nam, the senseless, sadly unnoticed deaths of his buddies in Grunt, the atrocity of war for oil in Gulf War, the paradigm of war to feed the power mongers and its reciprocal infectious taint of young warriors in Age of Madness. The crowning work for this reviewer is Fragments of Conception. It is a work of fifteen fragments in which Mr. Beck recaps our history; starting with the first idea, the first word spoken, without fanfare, to bring our weak protestations out of random particles. He presents all aspects of our bleak human existence with such authority, almost prophetic; except he rejects prophecy. All our efforts to create this great life, to control any deviations from the perfect, bring us to these words: We are beyond the protection of declarations, fear erases our visions of glory, our hopes are dairy hopes, automatically nourished, the intervention of power is a daily visitation, the silence that breathes in the evenings is interrupted by screams and lamentations. He continues to present our crimes, our voracious consumption of everything and each other, then concludes with a note of encouragement, suggests our hope for survival lies in the stars. We have messed it up pretty badly down here. He admonishes us to learn from all our faults and failings and then teeters us on the brink of decision. It's up to us from here. Expectations is about expectations dashed; indignant accusations against this American Dream that set such unrealistic expectations in us all. Yes, these are mostly sober words, brilliantly written in Gary Beck's gripping verse, clearly stating what, for many of us, is only an unsaid dissatisfaction; a nagging thought. It is a heavy read - you cannot turn these pages lightly. But, you should, you know - we all need this exercise.
Felino Soriano from . Expectations, when one delves into the definitional, subjective splays of this word combining anticipation with the collocated virtue of hope, the reader involved with Gary Beck's poems, can ascertain then, not simply a topographical realization of interpersonal revelation, but too, an involvement with Beck's environmental occurrences--those of valid imagination that sketches various tableaus with wondrous imagery and essential dexterity. This collection begins existentially: Abandoned in the desert I dream rescues, while the smiting sand strips the shimmering flesh from my rejected bones. Where is the guide? Wagon master of the soul's journey fording rivers, repelling ambushes, then leaving me behind, a companion to the voyage who turned the wheel harder than anyone, but questioned the road. Abandoned Pondering the evidence of atmospheric whereabouts appears to be a meandering theme throughout this collection. Understanding Beck's advanced poetic abilities, posits an immediate understanding of his use of philosophical language, employed to devour clichés, although thematic episodes may be relatable to various readers: Fission and fusion are conspiring in covert collaborations with entangling alliances, to test the short term tenants of White House, White Hall, Kremlin, with abodes well endowed with powerful polemics, that don't inform the public, that unauthorized splitting of misunderstood atoms may be punishable by contamination..... destruction........ eradication........ despite timely intervention of Habeas Corpus, Geneva convention, International inspection, ephemera............ Prisoners are Entitled Beck's ability to transpose reason and automatic displays of dismantling quotidian occurrences is an indigenous gift found in each of the poems finding existence in this collection; he understands language's various methods of coercing emotional realization of compatibility with the images he creates. Discovery interacts with sketches of moments serenading physical embodiment: Mumbles in the parlor playthings of children fumble together parental eyes elsewhere moment of touch and blush. Footsteps on the creaky sentry staircase rush to mend disarray nervous smile from couch to chair, enter the destroyer of delight. Social chatter of a passing age grumbles of what used to be exit with admonitions. Shy look from couch to chair insurance pause, quick move, young hands touch and hold, parents worry in a distant room, young flesh meets, encourages. Overall, Expectations represents some of Beck's finest work. As a prolific and widely published poet, he becomes, through metaphysical understanding, embodiment of poet and philosopher, and with his constructs of beautiful and entrancing language, this collection should become symbolic and ascertained as his premiere work of poetic creation.
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