The poems in Ingram Foster’s Pandoras [sic] Return aim broadly to explore the nature of love relationships and, in the process, to document a range of related human emotions, including loneliness, jealousy, hope, and anguish. The speaker also frequently seeks to provide comfort and encouragement to readers.
The short poem “Assurance,” for example, tells the reader that “Someone really loves you/ Someone really does/ Someone’s always there too [sic] protect you/ Someone really loves.” Likewise, “Ignite a Bright Fire” offers encouragement in these warming words: “Ignite a bright fire, warm the depths of your heart.”
While such sentiments are calming, however, they lack the concrete and particularizing details that distinguish their speaker from any other and make his distinctive experience of the world accessible to readers. The content of the poems remains abstract, with the speaker making statements and offering advice, rather than connecting through sensory or visceral images. (For example: “Solitude is rarity, rarity something special,/ Special is a friend, a friend is something treasured”; “I miss you too much to say/ I wish you did not go away”; “Lucid dreams are yours too [sic] keep/ For one love true no need too [sic] weep.”)
In addition to the broad nature of their content, many of the poems are written in simple, rhymed couplets or quatrains, more reminiscent of greeting card verse rather than mature literary work. They also display a consistent misspelling of certain words, most notably “too” instead of “to,” as well as a pattern of omitted apostrophes, including the possessive use of “Pandora” in the title. Such patterns of error undercut the professionalism of the project.
To improve on this work, Foster would do best to work on developing a more distinctive and compelling speaker’s voice. In its current form, Pandoras Return will likely hold the most appeal for the author’s friends and family, rather than general readers and serious aficionados of the genre.
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