Friday, October 14, 2011

Son, Brother, Husband, Father - Soldiers Them All

Poetry is an extremely personal matter. For me, I prefer poems that have rhythm, cadence, and tell a story; think Casey at Bat. Free verse was never something I enjoyed and seldom can appreciate and it is much harder for me to determine if such a poem is "good" or well written. So what I am left with is, did it make me feel? I don't care much for poetry that hides underneath conventional imagery, though, to prove to an English professor anyone can use imaginary, I wrote a poem full of it. It got published! Still, I prefer imaginary that one does not have to have a code to figure out (red is for passion, green for immaturity and on and on), imaginary that speaks to your being without having dissected the poem.
So when I was asked to review today's selection, I was a bit concerned. After all, who am I to judge something so personal. To say I was glad I did would be like saying I'm glad there is a Sunday in every week.

For Non-Fiction Friday:

 Poignant Poetry Available
     I Never Raised My Son to Be a Soldier
     by David McDonald
     Pages: 76

    From Amazon:
    The second of David's poetry Trilogy "I NEVER RAISED MY SON TO BE A SOLDIER" continues a hard  and honest look at military life for those who deploy to conflict. David portrays his own emotions in some highly crafted pieces which allow the reader, to flex their own 'emotion centres'. He gives credence to the 'realities' of War which most fail to fully engage with.David lays his soul bare, it is sometimes uncomfortable, yet very compulsive reading and a rollercoaster of emotions and very humbling.

 About this book:
      This book contains graphic war poetry from the front,  from the home front, and from the family perspectives. It tells not only the soldiers' stories but also their families'. Readers should be aware, there is some profanity.

My take:
     To me, good poetry has always been poetry that moves me, to laughter, to tears, to FEEL. So when it comes to I Never Raised My Son to Be a Soldier, much of the book excels. A warning readers, these poems can pack a powerful punch. I could not read it in several sittings, let alone one. It is too much like watching the landing at Omaha Beach in Saving Private Ryan over and over. There are no Where Have All the Flowers Gone found within these pages.
   McDonald's choice for his introduction, an excerpt from Marching Song, was perfect to set the tone for these poems. It gave me goose bumps, a foretelling of what was to come with many of McDonald's own poems.
   The first set of poems deal with the politics of war.  There is some profanity but it does reflect the sense of frustration with this aspect of war. From there the reader moves into the front. Here the imaginary in the poems are blunt, clear, and graphic, reverberating the nature of their subject. The Orchestra was one such poem. The next poems tend to deal with people left at home and later are poems dealing with PTSD.
    One poem in particular stuck with me, What is Happening. The dedication at the end of the poem says it all. Another, Dreaded Bad News, has a twist that you might not see coming but McDonald manages to carry the poem through to that twist providing an even more poignant ending.
    In some ways this book spoke directly to me. A Military Man is such a poem. Having been in the reserves, I full well knew we sent troops to the front with virtually no weapons training because there were no funds to provide bullets for training the Reserves and National Guard. Yet we activated over a hundred thousand of them. I believe those who were actually in the fighting or had someone dear in the fighting will be quite affected by I Never Raised My Son to Be a Soldier.
      If you read nothing else from this book, please read: The Promise; I Think Daddy Will Go to Hell; Through a Kid's Eyes; and Our Honoured Soldier as well as the ones I have already mentioned. It will give  you not only a taste for McDonald's poetry but will, I hope, move you as it did me.
    This book, like my blog, could use with some better editing but it does not distract from the reading of the poems.

     I will say again that poetry is a very personal thing and who am I to say what is good or bad. However, I was deeply affected by many of these poems and trust that many of you will be as well.  I believe that anyone who is interested in how war affects people will find this a good source.

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