Modern Poetry

Lloyd Constantine

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 126 Price: (paperback) $71.99 ISBN: 9781479710379 Reviewed: December, 2012 Author Website: Visit »

Lloyd Constantine has fashioned something of a magnum opus in Modern Poetry, dividing the text into sections designated with diverse topics such as: “Love and Relationships,” “Of Places and Times,” and “Observations.” It’s a handsome collection, roughly letter size (8-1/2” x11”), with shiny pages, often two columns of stanzas, and multicolored illustrations. Constantine writes about failed relationships, society, culture, living ethically, parenthood and more.

Repeatedly, though, he creates hurdles between the reader and himself. Forced rhymes weaken sensibility and he loses us with rhetorical diction. Although he has a sincere desire to speak purposefully about a story, event or situation, he eschews two of poetry’s most effective tools: concrete detail and metaphor. In other words, he explains but doesn’t show.

In “Midnight Madness” for example, he describes lovers more concerned with winning than resolving disputes. We read, “The silence cracked/ As the pendulum swung.” This is a nice detail, but, as with many of his poems, Constantine often resorts to editorial: “They counted the pain,/ Recounted who hurt whom/ As if one should win.” “Troubled” comes closer to the mark. A woman in bed with a man pulls away from him: “making a tiny ripple/ in a flimsy linen….” She’s fully clothed, yet chilled and beyond comfort. This is a compelling conceit for the pain of estrangement and failed contact, but Constantine needs to spend more time enriching the landscape (the smell of sweat, say, or the texture of skin or hair?) rather than interpreting the event for us.

Constantine brings a great deal of energy to his poetry, which is to his credit, if only he’d give himself permission to shape and focus. Give readers a genuine, accurate evocation, invite them into your personal, unvarnished universe, and they can supply their own conclusions.

Also available in hardcover.

Author's Current Residence
Ontario, Canada
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