Foreword Reviews

Bits n' Pieces of Life

Clarion Rating: 2 out of 5

Topical musings are flowed into poetic forms in the winding collection Bits n’ Pieces of Life.

William T. Clark Sr.’s musing personal poetry collection Bits n’ Pieces of Life gathers his “reflections on life, love, and happiness” across six brief, topical sections.

Reflective of a conservative Christian worldview, these poems draw on common adages and themes. They remind their audience of the need to be vigilant against evil; they champion patriotism and remember September 11, 2001. But they also exalt creature comforts, like family time and romantic love.

“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Cares, Who Decides?” approaches considerations of theodicy with genuine human care; elsewhere, a partner is addressed in flowery and complimentary terms, and charming memories from childhood are revisited. The appealing poem “Drifting on Memories” begins

I spent some time with myself today. I let my
Mind just drift. I really needed a moment or
Two. My spirit needed a lift.

Comforting, if short on surprises, the entries make their way through such topics in tidy, lilting form.

In style, the poems often commit to four-line stanzas and end rhymes. But some of the rhymes are forced, and others force awkward rhythms into the lines that precede them. Some lead to opaque deviations: “children can roam just as they please, / like ants in their pants, an old disease.” Further, the poems’ tendency to skirt the surfaces of their either universal, or very personal, topics means that their audiences are rarely invited to share in the enthusiasm and passion that their narrators express. A memorial poem is shared for a person unknown; the particulars of the central relationship are kept private, with the exception of a few cute details, as of a picnic with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or the winking line “You touched me on the small of my back. Oh-wee, baby, I like it like that!”

Further, the foci of individual poems shift internally to discombobulating effect. One drifts from a zoomed-out view of Earth to warnings about the serpent’s tongue; another moves between bemoaning the lessons taught to today’s youth to discussing the coming end times. This muddling of purposes is intensified by a general lack of linguistic precision: “open eyes” are linked to “avoiding the truth,” and contemplation and contentment are jarringly likened to “a growing cancer.” When the book makes use of metaphors and similes, they are over familiar, as of scaling mountains or ripples in ponds.

In reaching to pique the audience’s emotions, the entries become overwrought. “Cries of an Unborn” adopts formal language and exclamatory flourishes to address the serious needs of a fetus in utero, whose philosophical appeals are mature to the point of being unbelievable: “Destiny is what I seek; this must be my hour, and soon I will see.” The use of terms like “gangbangers” and “thugs” in a poem ostensibly about teaching children well is off-putting.

Instances of unnecessary capitalization, errant punctuation, and incorrect tenses further undermine the work. Blank pages appear between the poems, giving a false impression of the book’s length; some of these empty pages come in the middle of poems, severing their work mid-scene. Breaks in the text also come without clear purpose, and lines are italicized or placed in bold text without clear need.

Topical musings are flowed into poetic forms in the winding collection Bits n’ Pieces of Life.

Reviewed by Michelle Anne Schingler

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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