Foreword Reviews

Observation of the Moment

Analyzing Moments in Everyday Life into Poetry

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

Observation of the Moment is a motivational collection of poems that works to find the good in hard situations.

Owen Bryan Jr.’s autobiographical chapbook Observation of the Moment tackles everyday issues with a motivated spirit.

Functioning like a personal scrapbook, the text includes a “The How and Why” explanation; a collection of poems focused on defining personal moments, like overcoming clinical depression, important office conversations, and instances of motivating others to succeed; and a eulogy for Bryan’s grandfather. In radical style, most of the poems are accompanied by anecdotal notes that pinpoint the sources of their inspiration, and that cite quotes taken from other works of art or people in Bryan’s life. Some of these make the connected poems more engaging, including tips for research on inspirational topics, but most result in redundancies.

Redundancies appear within the poems themselves, too, compromising their meanings, as with a line that reads “Reincarnated, Life After Death,” limiting the potential connections that might be made by the otherwise novel allusion to a Notorious B.I.G. album. In “Do You Believe,” a similar problem occurs when the poem refers to its own composition in a line that echoes itself without adding meaning: “This poem was written on a whim, out the blue.” Such patterns give the poems a straightforward sensibility.

These free verse entries make frugal use of internal and end rhymes to emphasize their points. Alliteration is also employed, resulting in lyrical and slam poetry sensibilities. The language varies from high-minded to everyday; some lines mimic biblical language. However, because the language of even individual poems is mixed, their tones are undermined. Further, the book mixes metaphors and is inconsistent when it comes to punctuation, and its awkward line breaks are sometimes interruptive to the flow of the poems.

The collection’s creativity is undercut by its tendency toward over explaining itself, as when, following “The Maturation of Man,” which uses the term “comfortitude” (a portmanteau of “comfort” and “gratitude”) to communicate the experience of growing up in an unexpected way, the poem’s reference section emphasizes the intention of the word, whose meaning was clear from context. Issues of internal logic arise in entries like “Hyperbolic Time Chamber,” which implies that “everything,” but then again only a lot, can be bottled up.

Observation of the Moment is a motivational collection of poems that works to find the good in hard situations.

Reviewed by George Hajjar

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author 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 author 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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