TWO REVIEWS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE! Two new full length poetry collections, both published by UnCollected Press (therawartreview.com). The first, Hang In There by British bard John D Robinson and Orphan Road by US punk Tohm Bakelas.
!!!NEPOTISM KLAXON!!! Before I get into the crux of this review I would just like to point out that I am good friends with both of these poets, so take my words with a pinch of salt if you will. However, I would certainly not bother to review any books that I did not deem "worthy" of praise. I wouldn't just peddle any old shit because I was buddies with the author (no matter how many times I review a Dave Matthes book).
With the housekeeping out of the way, let's dig in to the poetry. I always find it difficult to review poetry because it is pretty fucking subjective. It is different to prose - prose is either well written or it is not. Poetry can really be whatever the fuck the poet wants it to be, so who the fuck am I to judge it? I may be a poet and a zine editor, but I have no formal poetry "education" other than reading poetry that I fucking like. With that said, I really fucking like the poetry in both of these books...
John D Robinson and Tohm Bakelas, although almost thirty years apart in age, and living on different continents, are kindred spirits. They come from the same school of poetry - they both tell it how they see it, without sugar coating or glossing over embarrassing or personal details. Both shoot from the hip and bash out short, snappy verse that kicks you straight in the gut. You won't find any fourteen page, flowery, metaphorical snore-fests in either of these books, that is not their style. You won't have to dig beneath the surface to find hidden meaning or be left scratching your head trying to work out if you really understood what you just read or not. And that is no criticism, that is why I love reading their work. Call me simple, or stupid, or both, but I came to poetry via punk rock and if these books were albums they would be by The Clash and The Ramones, UK Subs and Black Flag.