Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Me, My World, and I by A.V. Barber

Me, My World, and I
A.V. Barber
AuthorHouse, 2012

When I was growing up, there was a calligraphed poem hanging on the wall of my bedroom, that my mother had hung there when I was very young. It was written by one of my great-grandmothers. It was a sort of lyrical lullaby to a child – it’s music and rhythm and rhyme simple, but softly enticing.  It hung on that wall as long as I lived there, and for several years after -during which I occasionally came home for a visit. I had gone on to adulthood and earned a degree in writing and literature: I knew simplistic poetry when I saw it. And yet, something about that poem charmed me through all those years - for whatever depth it lacked, it captured and held the ear of the reader, and there is something to that. As I read Me, My World, and I, this childhood poem came to my mind many times.

I spend a lot of time reading complicated prose, and on occasion complex poetry. Anyone following my blog knows that I truly love the complexity of real innovation in writing. And so it was a surprise to me that I enjoyed this book so thoroughly: its simplicity is refreshing, its words don’t challenge the reader to work too hard cerebrally, but rather to just relax and drift through the beautiful ride.

The book is a collection of the author’s poems about everyday impressions in the life of an ordinary man, interspersed with some easy but thought-provoking essays – contemplative musings on the meaning of the world around us and of living - and some nice black and white photos and watercolor tossed into the mix. The overall affect is a portrait of the life that we all live in common, and it’s terribly pleasant. Here is an example, a particular amusing poem about the common emotion of envy:

The Grass is Greener

Your grass is always greener, 
And warmer shines your sun. 
For those who live on your side, 
The fight’s already won.   

Here’s my glass half-empty, 
But yours is still half-full. 
I am wrapped in nylon, 
While you’re in cotton wool.   

I work so hard for nothing, 
Your money grows on trees, 
And so you’re always healthy, 
While all I do is sneeze.   

You have perfect eyesight, 
Yet glasses I must wear. 
Through my tinted lenses,
You’re so lucky I would swear.

This poetry is not the least sophisticated; there are no revelatory metaphors or skin-tingling descriptions. One will not find stunning, deeply moving, emotion-jolting poetry here – nor even poetry that requires much thought to absorb, but I’m fairly certain that this is just what the author intended. The poems are more a gentle coaxing into a specific frame of mind, from which one goes on to read the accompanying essay provided for each poem. The essays are well-considered and several left me thinking for several hours. Anglophiles will particularly appreciate the uniquely British imagery and sensibility to the poems and essays.

It is interesting that the author has more recently publicized much more complex poetry, forcing the reader to recall the great lyrical poetry of 19th century Britain.  I would encourage the reader of this book to watch for further work from this author. Meanwhile, wait for the end of a tough day, make a cup of tea, put your feet up, and treat yourself to this soul-nourishing read. 

A.V. Barber's Me, My World, and I is widely available through and other retailers.

See my interview with A.V. Barber here!

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