Review – Calvin Bland’s Thoughts of a Pure Mind
This is a book of poems by Calvin Bland, covering many aspects of human emotion from a very personal viewpoint. Some of these emotions are very raw and, when you read these poems, you get a sense that the writer has “been there, done that” making it a labour of love for them, almost a therapy, as they work through, or document, their own issues.
Let’s look at the bad things first. There are many grammatical issues and, unlike some poetry I have read and really enjoyed, I don’t think it is deliberate and it took me out of the work. There were several technical issues with the Kindle version I read too, but I’m not going to take that into account because I’m sure the paperback would not have the same problems and the grammatical issues can be fixed with a good edit. The poetry itself is not brilliant, trying too hard in the main and falling between two stools, being neither the beat/rap poetry of performance, and I did try reading a few loud, nor the introspective flow-of-consciousness that the subject matter would lend itself so well to. The reason I say it tries too hard is the forcing of the rhythm and rhyme in each poem that gets you into a flow and then jars you out of it when it is interrupted by a single line in the middle that doesn’t “fit”. It may just be the poet’s style, as it is apparent in each of the poems but, for me, it doesn’t work.
That said, there are flashes of brilliance in the phrasing, like “So many days of drunken soberness”, and some really great ideas here that are definitely worth working with. I loved the ideas in “Mind travel”, “Life After or After Life” and “Human being”, after all what does make a human a being? My favourite poem in the whole book is “The Underdog” as a triumph over adversity and the growth of esteem. But there are other poems that are pure self-indulgence; “I Amaze Me” is a prime example of a poem that, yes, it’s great that the writer feels this and wants to share it but it comes across as incredibly egotistical and makes me dislike the person rather than applaud and support their new-found self-confidence. And some of the wording in others is pure cliché, or worse. “Me without my spirit is like a rabbit without a carrot” – really?
Finally, I think the sales pitch of this book of poetry is doing it a dis-service. I always do further research on a book when I read it, by finding it on Amazon and reading how the author presents it, as this gives a lot of insight into whether it has hit the mark that the writer intends or not. This book is marketed as a self help book. Whether or not this is a gimmick or whether the writer really believes that reading his work will “change your life” I don’t know but, to me, it alienates rather than encompasses readers of both genres, self help books (of which I am normally a fan) and poetry books (which are must haves to me) and means that Bland’s work will be overlooked.
There are definitely more positives than negatives though and, with rework and careful selection of poems for a new book, definite potential.
*** 3 STARS!