Darkness and Light

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DARKNESS AND LIGHT: Complete Poems 2014-2019

Last Free Dates: 25th May 20 to 29th May 20
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...Students or readers of poetry may enjoy this but the lack of varied forms does, at times, make it feel very repetitive....

Darkness and Light is the complete poems of J. Allen Eckhert, the nine volumes written over the years assembled here in one ebook.

The introduction of this volume of poetry caught my eye before the poems did. The author has a lyrical turn of phrase even with prose, and I had not before heard of someone losing their faith while in seminary school. Upfront I shall say that the formatting is excellent, one of the best I have seen from a poetry book. It even held up on the Cloud Reader and few do that.

The work is divided into each book, the first two being Existential and Weeping. Written during a time of depression, these poems show it. To call it more typical of teen angst would be to overlook the occasional gem of a phrase, but it would be true to say goths and emos will find something here that calls to them, in the portraits of decay, rot, and failure. Self-destruction is a common theme:

“Hopefully hope exists

Sadly sadness does”

The next volumes: Sunrise, Imagine, and Divided, are similar. All are written in free form verse with short lines, and there’s little experimentation with form or structure. Like a shallow pond, there’s little point in plumbing the deeps as these poems are about creating a feel rather than exploring deeper themes.

It’s the section on God (titled ‘Wrestle’) where the works begin to shine. Covering a theme that may well be inspired by the author’s own background, the pleas to an absent deity for intervention are heart-felt.This is also the only section with some experimentation on form.

Overall I think the books have been assembled in chronological order, and reflect the transitions that occurred in the author’s life when he wrote them. For example Sing, the sixth section, is the inverse of the first focusing on Joy, but right as I thought I’d found a theme to the collection (ascendance) I reached section seven, Blood and was brought back to the much dark tone of the earlier poems. Rebirth then follows that, and the tone shift jarred me somewhat.

Overall this is not a collection of poems that particularly appealed to me, but it was one that I enjoyed spending time with and it whiled away a few hours. The formatting is exceptional in that it is almost unnoticeable and works with the work rather than obscuring it. I didn’t spot any spelling mistakes, and the turns of phrase and some of the imagery (especially in the God section) stand out.

Students or readers of poetry may enjoy this. The lack of varied forms limits its use for criticism however, and does, at times, make it feel very repetitive. I want to give this a four, but I’m uncertain I can justify it. I shall leave the review with a quote from the author:

“Why does something good

feel like loss?”

Rating: 3
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