I have been delighted to publish some of Gary Beck's poetry on Bolts of Silk and so was delighted to be offered the chance to review his poetry collection Assault on Nature.
The title gives a clue to the obsessions and concerns of this collection - our destructive relationship with nature and the earth and the breakdown of relationships between different groups of people. It can feel like a depressing read, Beck is straightforward and blunt in his expression of the issues:
oh the bullets fly, our leaders lie,
our conscience goes to sleep.
We watch the war on TV sets
and we forget to weep.
from War Song
This is a refreshing change from the roundabout way of saying things used by some poets, but in a collection this length, it can lead to a sense of unremitting gloom. Which is perhaps, an accurate reflection on reality, but doesn't make this a book you want to devour in one sitting.
There are some moments of lightness and hope, Ghost Ships for example talks about recycling of ships and maritime structures, while Rope discusses the benefits of rope and knots. Sometimes Beck's clever use of rhyme and meter can give a poem a bouyant feel, as in Gravity:
Gravity's got me down
got me tight in its grip
Don't matter how I try
I can't get loose of it
even though the poem ends with a note of doom:
but gravity grinds me down
pulls me to the final crash.
Hidden away in the middle of the book though is Journey, a beautiful love poem
how far I travel
on your highways
distant as stars.
It's a collection that very much has something to say, and the intent of the message is loud and clear. Read this book, but not in one sitting and not if you're feeling low.
Assault on Nature by Gary Beck published by Winter Goose Publishing
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