John Thomas Qua uses his loose, expressive style to examine experiences and emotions on a wide array of topics in Poetic Beauty: An Abstract Encounter in Black.
The poetry collection begins with a note about accepting Jesus into one’s life, and the author’s religious background permeates many of the poems. There’s also some confusion early on, with a brief biography of someone named Milton Whitley, Jr., which isn’t explained; from the name’s appearance later in the book, it seems likely it’s the author’s true name.
Poetic Beauty offers 100 poems, some a bit over one full page, others complete in just a line or two. The poems are earnest and often display humor, as in “Answering Machine Zone,” which is presented as a voicemail greeting, but moves toward deeper ruminations before abruptly ending with, “What in the world am I talking about just leave a message!”
However, aside from occasional rhymes, the poems eschew poetic techniques. Rather, these are prose poems, as in: “Its kind a hard, just really [sic] say good-bye to you, when we’re really not/ quite sure, just were [sic] we plan to go.” Without vivid imagery, lyricism, and other standard poetic tools, they fail to resonate on an emotional level.
The book is also dogged by numerous errors throughout, including the overuse of commas. Misspellings and typographical mistakes—some in poem titles—are also prevalent. Another issue is the frequent repetition of themes and language, most obvious in the consecutive poems “Alone” and “Ten Twenty Five,” which are nearly identical.
Some phrases display subtle shifts from common expressions, such as “wreck time” instead of “rec time.” But because of the previously mentioned errors, it’s difficult to know whether they are intentional examples of witty wordplay, or merely happy accidents.
The poems have an appealing and honest voice but lack strong imagery and a polished presentation. As such, Poetic Beauty requires revision to attract a wide audience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.