There’s a certain feeling that comes in a well done book of poetry. But it’s not usually a sturdy feeling.
Most good poetry brings into focus a crisp, savory slice of life. It has the flavor of over passed luxury, with an ethereal quality to it. Like a dandelion growing out of a crack in the sidewalk. Or a whisper suspended in glass.
That isn’t a hard and fast rule, however. There are poems out there that aren’t meant to be handled with curator’s gloves. Most poems made for kids tend to be made of tougher stuff. They can be hauled around, mispronounced, and misused, all without losing any of their brightness. But they tend to be simple. Their simple rhythms have simple concepts and a simple execution.
Yet every so often you get a simple, sturdy poem that even the adults can love. Shell Silverstein was famous for them, and Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss built their careers on them. It’s a marriage of fun, and sly wit that can stand up to the hammer of even the worst critics.
And that’s what Theodore Ficklestein does in This Book Needs a Title.
I had an outrageous amount of fun with this book. Don’t get me wrong, literary criticism is fun on its own merits. It’s fun to dissect a piece of fiction, and sniff out the inner workings of the author. But it’s “401k has matured, house has sold for 20% above market, and it’s time to move to Florida” fun. Ficklestein’s book is pure “playing in the mud and pretending not to hear mom calling you in for lunch” fun.
Ficklestein takes nothing in this book seriously. He writes poems about not having anything to write about. He mentions that his editor is breathing down his neck. Then, halfway through the poem, he realizes that he doesn’t have an editor. He attempts to illustrate a poem. The poem is devoted to how poor his drawings skills are. He writes his own book reviews for the inside cover. And not all of them are good.
Ficklestein has no cohesive style, pattern, topic, or format for any of his poems. But the book as a whole has a surprising amount to say. There are notes of desperation and attempts to connect to other people. Other sections revel in the joy and oddities that come with a life well lived. Every poem is about something different, but each poem has a reason why life shouldn’t be taken seriously.
This book may be one of the best poetry compilations I’ve read. Be sure to pick it up today.
Leigh is a fearless writer who never met a genre, subject, or format she didn’t like. She has written professionally for the past six years and enjoys biking, exploring odd corners of Northeast Ohio, and discovering those good books she hasn’t read yet.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Theodore Ficklestein. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.