In Thoughts on Paper, Louis Strickland offers poems that seem more like short essays with some rhyming incorporated. The title is apt: Entries read much like a person collecting his thoughts on paper.
Each piece is prefaced by a paragraph on the facing page roughly explaining the poem’s themes. For example, “Why Try Love” is described as being about making poor love choices when one is lonely: “We should do our best not to confuse [being alone and being lonely], and in any case not make hasty decisions based upon unclear and incomplete assessments.” Part of the piece reads, “You do not interest me at all, nor do you intrigue me the slightest little bit. If this is being in love I want no parts [sic] of this.”
Written in short paragraphs, entries discuss colors related to emotions, having a tough childhood, anger at one’s family and friends, military service, and more. Sentences sometimes feature end rhymes, as in: “Bright red is what I remember most on Valentine’s Day. No Valentine so why red on such a gloomy day.”
Unfortunately, the pieces seem delivered off the top of the author’s head and include errors in spelling (“surly” for “surely”) and grammar (“Many men have actually loved for a woman”). Because the rhyming is unpredictable, reading these pieces can be a bumpy ride.
Also, Strickland’s speaker often cites grievances against women. One piece (“Precious”), exalts an ideal woman, describing her as loving and forgiving of men for their misdeeds while having little personality of her own. Male readers may relate to this viewpoint, but women will likely find it offensive.
Putting these “thoughts on paper” must have been cathartic for the author, and that’s a reasonable motivation for writing verse. However, before publication, such works need to be carefully crafted and polished. While some may enjoy commiserating with the challenges the author describes, the collection needs significant editing to connect meaningfully with a larger audience.
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