An upbeat, life-affirming collection that’s a bit too personal and unpolished for general consumption.

POEMS BY THE SILVER SCRIBE

Amusing, exhortative light verse and often highly personal occasional poetry.

These days, anonymity is a curiously conspicuous rhetorical choice for the author of a poetry collection, an effacement that draws attention to itself. However, if this particular nom de plume suggests a certain pretension, perhaps evoking fears of sententious navel-gazing, don’t fear: Fortunately, the Silver Scribe is more tongue-in-cheek than word-to-the-wise. Not that he forgoes moralizing, but the moralizing bits tend to be buried by the cornucopia of quirky occasional poems on subjects that arrest the poet’s flitting interest. In addition to the odd word of wisdom and paean to friendship or the charms of the fairer sex, he writes adoringly, humorously and sometimes quite earnestly of Princess Di, Wayne Gretzky, Ronald Reagan, Marlon Brando, a pigeon named Frank, Hurricane Frances, various friends, Mercury the Cat, Pope John Paul II and Elvis—especially Elvis. The King acts as a minor muse, usually inspiring poems that play on anagrams of “Elvis” in some way, which is about as deep as the wordplay runs. By definition, the poetry is doggerel, but good-hearted doggerel; meaning often plays second fiddle to rhyme: “Maybe you could call me a Jack of all Trades / Yet, in the morning my bed I have always made” or the indecipherable “As you drive around to receive your order / The girl takes your money and dares you to get bolder / But, you just thank her for how she works to get older.” Likewise, syntax often suffers when setting up forced rhymes: “As Pope of the entire World he shared his beliefs / He never thought of anyone as to him beneath.” Ultimately, though, it hardly matters, since this is neither a collection about poetic technique nor the weighty words of a silver-headed sage. As the precisely dated entries (implying an absence of revision) and the inclusion of impossibly personal references suggest, this is a glimpse into a private journal, into a joyful, if sometimes naïve, perspective centered on the belief that rhyming is better than whining and song will never lead you wrong.

An upbeat, life-affirming collection that’s a bit too personal and unpolished for general consumption.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2007

ISBN: 978-1434327598

Page Count: 212

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2013

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A fast-paced, engaging trip to the heart of a bachelor, without enough plausibility or dimension.

THE ALASKAN STING

In Herold’s debut novel, a young, womanizing boozehound struggles to catch up with his elusive Alaska-bound cruise ship.

Young, single Tom Courier has just been gifted an all-expenses-paid trip aboard the Nordic Princess, courtesy of his cousin and co-worker, Scott. His objective: two weeks of bourbon-soaked, coitus-filled relaxation. Things seem on track after he achieves his objective an hour into his initial connecting flight. From there, however, his plans veer wildly off course: A bomb detonates on the plane’s wing, forcing an emergency landing in Portland. Tom misses the Princess’ departure, but his luggage finds its way on board and serves as motivation throughout the story for him to reach the ship. Unfazed, Tom seizes the opportunity to spend an erotic evening with Mandy—the “cougar” he met on the plane—in a secluded hideaway in the Oregon wilderness. Herold’s ominous foreshadowing hints at Tom’s impending misfortune, and trouble continues to lurk just below the surface for much of the novel. The author maintains sufficient momentum as his protagonist pushes on, inching ever closer to reaching his stateroom aboard the seafaring vessel. Yet an ensuing stream of uncannily coincidental mishaps keeps him perpetually one step behind. On his next layover, in British Columbia, Tom finds himself in another love affair, this time with a local surfing champion named Giata. In increasingly predictable fashion, this fling proves more urgent than catching the ship, of which Tom remains in tepid pursuit. Unfortunately, Tom’s seemingly one-track mind accentuates his shallow depth of character and risks preventing many readers from relating to him. Following another airplane crash, Tom finds himself in the port town of Ketchikan, Alaska, engaging in yet another romance with a local beauty. There, he’s hurled inexplicably into a two-man campaign to track down a mythical, luck-bringing sea beast. The story’s rapid pace continues at the expense of character development, while typos throughout further distract from the more subtle plot threads Herold attempts to weave. Despite the lulling effect of its rhythmic, seemingly inevitable series of calamities, the story revives for a compelling final twist.

A fast-paced, engaging trip to the heart of a bachelor, without enough plausibility or dimension.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468507737

Page Count: 328

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2014

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BYE BYE BLACKBIRD

WORLDS PAST AND WORLDS AWAY

Merging geographic precision with detailed lyricism, Berry’s collection of poetry spans continents and states of the soul.

The best poetry focused on a particular locale tends to evoke sensory stimulation as much as meaning, and Berry’s collection of nearly 60 poems is no different. Born in England, the author has travelled widely throughout Africa and the United States. With a doctorate in geography, she casts a discriminating, discerning eye on the landscapes to which her travels have taken her. In unrhymed, compact poems—few more than a page in length—the poet speaks with seriousness about the relationship between the natural world and one’s inner world. In “Music of Place,” she writes: “Carried in the wind is the music of place, blown / like washing on a line, white sheets flapping, sending / large billowing folds of sound back to me,” which typifies her ability to translate a place into a finely detailed, highly specific moment in her past or present. Some poems set in North Africa elevate journallike jottings into sharply etched experiences. The dominant moods suffusing these poems are calm and meditational, perhaps reflecting the influence of poet Elizabeth Bishop, who was also attuned to inner and outer geographies. The final 20 poems shift focus from geography and place to reconciliations or frictions with family members; many relatives have passed on but are vibrantly alive in the author’s memory. These family sketches often turn on a particularly poignant phrase spoken to the author by a parent or loved one: “Windows” pivots on Berry’s father’s comment, “I could drive if I wanted to,” as the author notes that her father never owned a car. Few books of recent poetry reveal such a penetrating awareness of how the environments in which we live affect us as much as we affect them. An extraordinary, nuanced collection by a gifted poet.

 

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1935514749

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Plain View

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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