The poems in For the Love of Life introduce the poet-speaker as “a messenger for the one and only true author, the spirit above.” McGill tells his readers outright that the “types of literature” included in this collection are “spiritual, romance, friendship, birthdays, wedding vows, spring moments, winter moments, baby showers, [and] anything pertaining to love and life!”
McGill’s poems do indeed encompass all these subjects and occasions. In doing so, however, they rely heavily on sweeping generalizations and familiar clichés, rather than fresh language and new insights.
One representative poem, titled “The Cage,” typifies McGill’s style. The speaker uses the familiar image of the cage to signify that he feels trapped: “Looking through the bars/ I acknowledged the glory of rain/ As I fight the agony/ And the mental capacity of pain.” Instead of depicting a specific situation with distinctive details, which would have allowed him to connect with readers emotionally, he writes abstractly about “agony” and “pain.” Other poems, such as “Against the Grain,” address readers directly but rely on similar abstractions and clichés: “Although you may want/ Your cake and eat it too!/ You also must remember/ The world doesn’t revolve around you!”
Many poems in the collection are explicitly religious and addressed to God, including “Gratitude” and “Teach Me Lord.” Another significant number, such as “My Black Queen” and “My Woman,” are songs addressed to the speaker’s beloved. These poems feel private, rather than crafted with an audience in mind.
The overall ethos of For the Love of Life is Christian self-help and inspirational light verse. The poems turn on platitudes, delivering tried-and-true advice that most readers will have heard before. The format is likewise off-putting, with poems printed in all capital letters and italics. Persistent misspellings of sacrifice (“sacrafice”), shining (“shinning”), cherish (“charish”), divine (“devine”), and countless other words further undercut the author’s effectiveness and these poems’ appeal.
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