Title: Doggerel: Really Bad Poems
Author: George Hackler
Doggerel: Really Bad Poems is a large poetry collection with an ambitious reach. The nearly 500 poems seek to cover a broad range of life’s idiosyncrasies. They vary in length from a single paragraph to multiple pages and in tone from reflective to aggressive.
Starting with poems on the theme of Life and proceeding through six other categories — Love, Sin, Sex, Nature, Death and God — few aspects of the human condition are left unexamined. The reader learns about the author’s early career, loves, pivotal life events, and musings on death and the afterlife. It is interesting to note that love and sex take up two different sections, and the poems are similarly distinctive.
Overall, the book gives the reader the sense that the writer is someone who did not live by half measures — and that to some extent he still lives that way. His life has been one of passion and despair, lust and grief, all keenly felt. The poems run the gamut from thoughts on money, power, and politics to the quiet enjoyment of nature and silent prayers to above.
The form of the writing is as varied as the subject matter. Some of the works are calm and contemplative. Some are visceral and graphic. Some reflect the thoughts of a mature man, others the sensual pleasures of someone less experienced. Most are straightforward in their vocabulary, though there are doubtless times many readers may reach for a dictionary in search of a definition for a new word.
Some readers may have preferred if the poems had been presented in a chronological order within their categories, so that they may follow the progress of thoughts on a theme through the decades. As it is, the date of each piece’s writing jumps back and forth sometimes by over a decade. But, others may appreciate that this forces each work to stand on its own, rather than in relation to others. It could potentially also encourage readers to dip in and out of the sections, rather than starting at the beginning and working their way to the end. With the size of the book, reading from cover to cover may not be the best way to appreciate each work. In fact, sampling the poems this way would result in mixing up the reading experience. It would spread out in time the reading of those that touch on similar sentiments. Reading them at different sittings would also make sure each packs its own punch.
Due to the breadth of its examination of the human condition, this book is recommended to those who like to delve into the nitty-gritty of existence and the many emotions these experiences can elicit. It would particularly appeal to those who appreciate no-nonsense writing, and glimpses of lives other than their own. The language is not overly-flowery or inaccessible, and the subject matter is intimately relatable.
In all, Doggerel is a compilation of decades of thoughtful living caught on paper. It reflects days and nights of teasing out the right word to entrap the ineffable parts of life into a few syllables. It tells the story of a man struggling to explain the unexplainable, which is ostensibly the human condition, but may actually be himself.
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