Life in Verse

Monte W. Harris

Publisher: Monte Harris Pages: 95 Price: (paperback) $19.95 ISBN: 9780578181851 Reviewed: November, 2016

Life in Verse is a collection of 83 poems arranged into ten sections. A majority are written with rhyme schemes, while a few are delivered in free verse.

Author Monte Wells Harris touches on a wide scope of topics in his sections. The first, “Nature,” offers scenes from the natural world, often conveying a sense of the reassurance that nature brings, as in “Seasons”: “There is comfort knowing cold winter nights/ Will give way to springtime and will not last.” “Love and Lost” explores love’s vagaries, including the excitement of two people meeting “on a magical night” and, conversely, the pain of preparing “For goodbyes we must say tomorrow.” “Perspective” finds the speaker examining dark times in general and moments “When bipolar existence/ Collided with normal life.”

Other sections: “Time and Space” contemplates the “passing of years” and longing for youth; “Spiritual” tackles the grandeur of a Creator (and, oddly, includes a poem about mothers); “Philosophy” offers a wide range of thought, including reflections on equality, success and even turning fifty: “Environmental” frets over “A planet on the edge of crisis” and the terrors of global warming; “War and Peace” exhorts readers to eschew force and instead, “To wage battles of the mind”; “Political” and “Modern Times” discuss current affairs, such as America’s loss of the middle class, corporate greed, and time wasted on “Digital distraction.”

While the topics addressed clearly have import, the work unfortunately falters, relying more on abstract ideas than specific, sensory details that would draw readers in. We are told about the speaker’s experience and beliefs rather than offered vivid examples. A sampling: ”Love is more than shared affection”; “Time flows/ Past the days of our youth”; “No death will come, only transition.” “Nature” is the only section where readers consistently encounter concrete nouns, but the poems fail to offer fresh insight or imagery. We have often read such lines as: “The gentle waves lap at your feet” or “As the winds of autumn turn to winter/ Trees of green turn lifeless and brown.”

In its present form, the collection struggles to deeply engage readers. More specificity of language is needed in order for it to resonate more powerfully with an audience.

Author's Current Residence
Happy Valley, Oregon