A collection of poetry and prose exploring topics such as love, devotion, pain, truth, fundamentalism, war and death.
This volume’s primary pleasures are a wealth of diverse syntax and some arresting, insightful images. “Savage,” for instance, describes humanity as “Trespassers, aimless wanderers; / Mere gypsies in our world,” while “Dubiety” ends with a nice metaphor for doubt as “the only canoe, / To row around in the ocean of life.” Long by the standards of poetry and short by the standards of prose, most pieces are divided into sections, and some pieces contain both poetry and prose. The prose occasionally offers compelling ideas, such as the beginning of “Religion”—“Religions should not be given much importance than bathing soaps. In privacy you apply soap on your body. Nobody is bothered what kind of soap you use when you take a bath in your privacy.” But most of the prose is prosaic and flat in its language and pretentious and preachy in content. A four-page piece on “Sex” informs us that “Sex is the topic forbidden by the neomoralist thinkers” and that societal inhibitions mean that “[a] natural thing like breathing is blocked with all the might. Will this have an alternative? No, this has led to perversions rather than alternatives. More homosexuals, lesbians, and more psychopaths are the result.” No representation ever successfully captures every element of the original it depicts, but it’s a bad sign when a writer announces his mistrust of language: “Words are meant to convey, but they are shallow. / The fathomed depths of experience cannot be expounded in words” (“Mind”). Kotek might find words less shallow if he didn’t attempt to squeeze such enormous ideas into such tiny spaces. Hopefully, in a second volume, he plays to the strengths found in his poetry and finds ways to overcome the weaknesses in his prose.
Intriguing ideas highlighted by Kotek’s poetry and largely underserved by his prose.