Daniel Fairclough’s Frustrations is a wide-ranging collection of 80 free-verse poems interspersed with comic-book-style sketches and two haikus.
The book’s back-cover blurb indicates that experiences of “lust, love, anger, [and] solitude” inspired the poet-author as he created the book’s contents in his early 20s. “[These] poems reflect the ideas of his adolescence.”
As such, Fairclough includes subjects as varied as autumn, the bathroom, feeling lost in the whirl of a city, squirrels, daffodils, yearning to connect with a woman, language and more. He also offers love-letter poems to specific women and pieces that depict otherworldly creatures such as aliens, dryads, and paladins.
Fairclough’s writing is animated and often thought-provoking. The speaker occasionally makes stylistically compelling statements, such as, “I see you,/ eagerly waiting for the dinner of my affection,/ like some stray cat a kind old woman has stumbled upon.” Often, though, he defaults to clichés: “Staring you down like a deer in the headlights.”; “Your eyes are like emeralds shining like diamonds.” And many lines are weighed down by abstraction: “If loveliness had a physical form, it would be you.”
Due to tonal and thematic variations, readers are likely to experience a kind of whiplash as they move through the book. Sometimes Fairclough writes about love in sincere but sentimental ways. Other times, he uses elevated diction to ironic effect (“Here I sit, quite leisurely/ blasting a deuce with the greatest of ease.”) Still other times, he offers poems that read more like spoken word: (“Damn I love this girl […] Fake hipster shades, fake hipster days/ Borrowing money from the moms, could I get more lame?”).
The result is an uneven read that prompts frustrations unintended by the title. In its current form, the collection lacks the cohesiveness and stylistic consistency of more professional volumes. While it offers interesting moments, revision with an eye toward paring the poems, thematically grouping them and infusing the work with fresh imagery would greatly enhance its appeal.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.