Displays, a collection of poetry by Gary Beck, does not begin lightly, with a poem detailing the events of 9/11.
The style of these poems is not too fancy that you cannot enjoy them, although they often need to be read several times because these are poems with meaning that require reading between the lines and are bold I think. Allocation of resources tells us
‘As our prisons grow more populous
than some of the world’s nations,
we should consider the lost resource
of men idly sitting in their cells
serving unproductive sentences
who might be enlisted
with appropriate protections
for our society,
for public service,
a chance for redemption’
This seems to be poetry mainly focusing on Iraq, war, America, France, workers, tenements, bull fighting, privilege, ‘I sit on my terrace in safety
with doves and finches for company,
still protected by my government,
still able to dream tomorrows’
and I think shows up a mirror to the world and its faults as a whole. There’s a lot to reflect on in these poems. It feels like a book with purpose. There are poems, such as Newton and How to Know the Birds (an Introduction to Bird Recognition) which are humorous and give some light relief.
My one criticism would probably be that because of the amount of poems, take each poem one at a time and appreciate it. This is also I feel heavy with some poems and yet light on others, especially towards the end of displays. It feels like more trivial poems are left to make up the rest of the collection, whereas those that are political make up much of the beginning and middle. Giving this an odd balance.
Really this is a book of two halves. The first half is a stirring speech of poems on our culture and world and the second more wistful and fun.
Some of the poems could have been written as one instead of separately, otherwise it feels like this stalls and repeats itself at times but for its theme, perspective, and social commentary displays is a book well worth the money, for reading and sharing.
There is one poem I would like to share with you, which personally I feel is true and sums up my own feelings.
The guardians of poetry,
mostly self appointed,
produce polished products
that make their universities proud.
Don’t all poets go to college now?
Somehow they’ve managed to convince
a non-discriminating public
that form is more important than content,
style more necessary than substance.
The endless hordes of versifiers,
mostly sustained by academia,
have subtracted the elemental fire,
constrained the extremes of emotion,
removed the excess of fervour,
provided well-constructed poems
as substitutes for passion
that make poetry a desert sameness,
elegant, remote, serene,