Though based on an oversimplified worldview where, at least morally, life is seen in monochrome, Phillip Freeman’s collection of faith-based, urban poetry is often inspirational. However, the lack of any thematic progression — the poems aren’t arranged strategically; in fact, they’re in alphabetical order according to the title — makes the reading experience an aimless one.
Tonally, the poetry has a childlike innocence to it, one that perceives the world in uncomplicated, plainspoken terms. In “A Savior Was Born,” Freeman describes the Nativity thusly: “Our Lord wasn’t born in a five-star hotel complete with a hot tub and prime rib. He was born in a barn with animals in a manger for a crib.” A line from “Creator” reads: “God created the oceans to provide water when there is no rain. The oceans also give us seafood that’s good for the brain.” In “Hater, Beware,” Freeman melds urban sensibility with faith in Christ: “You can try to drag my reputation through the mud. Lying to the boss, saying you caught me smoking bud. Oh, I won’t curse you out. I won’t even need a gun. I’ll just get on my knees and pray to God’s begotten son.”
While most of these poems will be regarded as too light for hardcore poetry aficionados, there is unarguably simple wisdom within pieces like “You Are What You Think” and “No Vision, No Future.” But much of that existential insight is lost in the undisciplined feel of the poems; although the majority of poems have a (very) loose rhyming scheme, they are inexplicably constructed in prose form, which greatly hinders any kind of lyrical flow.
The collection has a spoken word sense of coolness about it, but the lack of any narrative and thematic complexity, in the individual poems as well as the collection as a whole, will make it hard for this collection to find a wide audience.
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