Among The Lost (In Dante’s Wake) by Seth Steinzor | Poetic Book Tours

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Synopsis from GoodreadsAmong the Lost, set in the modern American rust belt, is a meditation drawn from Dante’s Purgatorio. To Dante, Purgatory was the mountain where souls not damned went after death to cleanse themselves of sin in preparation for entering Paradise. What, Steinzor asks, are we preparing ourselves for, having lost the fear of hell and the hope of heaven, in the course of our daily urban existence? And whatever that is, how do we go about preparing for it?

Publisher: Fomite Press

Date Published: November 2016

Date Read: January 2017

Source: Poetic Book Tours

 

REVIEW

 

As part of Poetic Book Tours I was asked by Serena if I would be willing to join in reading and reviewing Among The Lost, I have always been a fan of Dante’s Circles of Hell, and after learning that Among The Lost is inspired by Dante’s Purgatorio, I knew then I have to be a part of this Book Tour or I will probably regret it. Seth Steinzor’s poetry is rich and on point. Often times there’s no beating around the bush, he writes what needs to be said, with such gusto and precision that you can help but pause and ponder on the truth it was revealing. And the truth was, our existence had been tainted with mostly horrible and unimaginable things. The book was divided into different Canto, where our narrator encounters different scenario and different people with varied dilemma or varied traits. It was heavily political and realistic at the same time, which at times hard to get into but once you get the hang of it, it will be something you truly appreciate. Among the Lost used modern setting to juxtapose those of ancient times, which was truly remarkable. Seth Steinzor “modernized” a classic many of us loved. He concoct his poetry into something relevant and timely, something one could identify with.

I have not read the first book, so I had no way of comparing them. This poetry book may not be for everyone, at times I get confused on certain references, thus making it hard for me to completely grasp what was being conveyed. In the same vein I could not fully recommend this one to those people who are just beginning to appreciate poetry as this one may not be as engaging, but then it is something worth a try, especially to the ones who wanted to read more in depth portrayal of government and the society. But one thing I have to say – Seth Steinzor’s writing style is truly magnificent. He had a way with words that made the book more appealing and it was a bonus that this book was told in story form following the journey of the narrator from one specific stage or path onto another.

I specifically liked this excerpt from his poem Canto VI: In the Clouds

Telling you of this brings it back to me as

if I were standing there! – and after

not too many heartbeats thinking this:

The sight of these two mammals enjoying so

fully the little they have in common should shame you to

weeping, America! How hard can it

be to care for one another? Your rich

begrudge your poor their mite. Your poor

begrudge each other. The ones in the middle fear

the ones below them, bend the knee to the

 

moneyed, and keep an eye on their neigbors. The space a

dollar takes is more than you would

spare the creatures around you. You’re free with this:

you shit your nest and everywhere else. You

stomp around the world with an anxious smile and a

big knife, taking whatever you

want, and whoever gets in your way had better

look to god for help. You wonder

why they hate you, who cried your name with longing…

About the Author:

Seth Steinzor protested the Vietnam War during his high school years near Buffalo, New York, and his years at Middlebury College, advocated Native American causes after law school, and has made a career as a civil rights attorney, criminal prosecutor, and welfare attorney for the State of Vermont. Throughout he has written poetry. In early 1980s Boston he edited a small literary journal. His first, highly praised book, To Join the Lost, was published in 2010.

Available on Amazon.

Rating: rating_3stars

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K. V. Dominic Essential Readings and Study Guide: Poems about Social Justice, Women’s Rights, and the Environment by K.V. Dominic: Book Review | Poetic Book Tours

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Synopsis from Goodreads“K. V. Dominic Essential Readings” gathers for the first time the three most important works of poetry from this shining new light of contemporary Indian verse in English: “Winged Reason,” “Write Son, Write” and “Multicultural Symphony.” A fourth collection of 22 previously unpublished poems round out a complete look at the first 12 years of Dominic’s prolific and profound verse. Each poem includes unique Study Guide questions suitable for South Asian studies curricula.
Written in free verse, each of his poems makes the reader contemplate on intellectual, philosophical, spiritual, political, and social issues of the present world. Themes range from multiculturalism, environmental issues, social mafia, caste-ism, exploitation of women and children, poverty, and corruption to purely introspective matters. From the observation of neighborhood life to international events, and everyday forgotten tragedies of India, nothing escapes the grasp of Dominic’s keen sense of the fragility of life and morality in the modern world.

Publisher: Modern History Press

Date Published: September 1, 2016

Date Read: November 2016

No. Of Pages: 284

Source:  Copy provided by Poetic Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Check it out on Amazon.

About the Author: Internationally acclaimed poet Prof. K. V. Dominic (Kerala, India) is the author of three major volumes of poetry about the natural world as well as social and political commentary: Winged Reason, Multicultural Symphony, and Write, Son, Write.

Review

RELEVANT AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING

We need more of this in the book community. This masterpiece had to be written, not just for the sake of empathy but more importantly for awareness. I always challenge myself with the books I read, there are books that are easy to read and will be forgotten in the years to come, but also there are books that would stay with you – this book is one of them. The beauty of how it depicted the pressing issues in the society that we live in, lyrical yet with impact. Something that had to be said over and over drilling it into the minds of the closed-minded ones. I commend how rich and how it was able to show the other side of what people usually miss out. It wasn’t just promoting awareness, but immersing ourselves into the reality that we face day in and day out. It was more of an invitation to do something about it, to finally stand up for what we believe in. Stand up for the things they often shut us out.

The poems varied from important social issues, to culture, women’s rights and yes even environment. You would easily notice the author’s persistence to make all these problems and all these issues be relevant, to be talked about and eventually resolve them, in whatever for it may come from. I commend that the author used his vast knowledge and experience in concocting a truly revolutionary work. I loved how he used the written words as medium to send the message across. It is as if it is a summon to awaken one’s sense to see past the veil of oppression and passivity. It was more than a collection of poems, it is a voice that demands to be heard.

Take the poem Mother’s Love for an instance.

Maternal love, love sublime

Inexplicable, unfathomable

Noblest of all emotions

Visible both on human beings

and other beings

xxx

Maternal love is transcendent emotion

Both human species

and other species possess

I am perplexed

by some sporadic disasters

A mother offering her

affectionate daughter

to please her lover’s sexual urge

How could she throw her dead child

to the hungry wold?

How could she suppress

the divine emotion of maternal love?

also the poem I Can Hear the Groan of Mother Earth

I can hear the groan of mother earth

being raped by her own beloved human sons

Having sucked all milk from her mountain breasts

quarry deep out of construction mania.

and this passage from the poem “A Nightmare”

A lavish wedding feast was served in the town hall,

rich delicacies heaped on the plates,

were relished by the pompous guests

I could see two ragged girls outside

struggling with the dogs in the garbage bin.

Now this poem is my favorite: Pleasures and Pains

Pleasures and pains;

two sides of a coin.

We toss it early morning;

majority gets the pains side.

Pleasures come like sprinkle,

while pains fall like deluge

and continue like monsoon.

Happiness is a mist

while sorrows shower like snow.

There was something so haunting about his poems. KV Dominic’s poems were written in such a manner that it is easier to grasp and fully digest, it was straight to the point without any reservations whatsoever. It was as honest as it could get. My ultimate favorite would be the whole collection of poems under Write Son, Write.

Now I could highly recommend this one for someone who wants to branch out to poetry and at the same time would want to immerse himself in social awareness and the present predicament that the humanity faces. This would be the perfect book.

Rating: rating_4stars

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