Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Book Review: 'Black Book of Poems II' by Vincent K. Hunanyan

Ex and Why: ‘If you are born an X and Y, Then predetermined shall you die. ‘

Armenian born author Vincent Hunanyan earned his degree in creative writing from UCLA. He now lives and writes in Stockholm.

It is refreshing when a new poet offers an explanatory note about his art before the poems begin - from his stance we are more tied to his mission: ‘On my twenty-sixth birthday I was in Vietnam, having a heart attack. It was also the day I published, Black Book of Poems I. Having quit my sales job to heroically dedicate my life to this craft, I picked my birthday to be the release date for my first, official work. Frankly, I had absolutely no expectations publishing Black Book of Poems; I knew the struggles of self-publishing and that a book (regardless of its quality) was never guaranteed sales. I told myself that if I could impact one reader out of a thousand, or even ten thousand, nothing else mattered. I returned from the hospital at sunrise (my heart was apparently healthy), published the book and went to sleep. The rest, as they say, is history. As I mentioned in my previous preface, there is no magic formula to understanding poetry. Poetry is not math- it’s not perfect, nor precise. You don’t “understand” it intellectually. I believe your connection with a good poem is more spiritual than anything. Anyone forcing their interpretation of a poem on you is usually full of shit. Unless it’s the author himself. But then, what’s the point in writing the piece in the first place. The quality of a poem is not tied to the complexity of the words or the symmetry of the rhymes or meter. I think the best poems are simple but profound; free from sentiment, yet somehow heartbreaking. I have poems I recite until this very day that I’ve carried in my mind for years. When I read these poems for the first time, more often than not, I don’t “understand” them, but there is something about them that elevates my heartbeat or sends shivers down my spine; and as with any great piece of artistic creation, the longer I look the more I see. My soul feels something my intellect cannot grasp. It takes time until that which you connect with metaphysically becomes fixed and you can express it intellectually. Though, typically, this doesn’t happen. So, don’t fear poetry and don’t overthink it. And if you don’t “get it”, you don’t get it. That’s all. Come back to it and try again if you think you might have missed something. All great art takes time to truly appreciate and resonate with. That’s all there is to it. Unlike the previous collection in which most poems have a rhyming scheme, the style within these pages will vary. P.S. As poetry can be very lyrical, for best experience, read the poems out loud. It will also engage more of your senses.’ 

A few examples of this impressive poet follow:

It, Too Shall Pass 
Every man must bear his cross, 
Through pleasure, pain and loss. 
In empty fields of shallow graves, 
Untainted souls will take my place. 

And in your final, fading day, 
Forget me not, my friend, I pray. 
No pain can stay, no pleasures last, 
Cry not, my love, it, too, shall pass. 

PTSD (to be read in one breath) 

Free World Leaders calmly selling 
Trigger happy soldiers, raping 
Beaten children, hungry, crying 
Broken veterans keep trying 
Ravished villages collapsing 
Orphaned children, hungry dying 
Propaganda keeps corrupting 
Brightest minds of my generation 
Feeble-minded freedom-fighters 
Public pressure, public panic 
Hunting season is upon us 

Now your arguments don’t matter, 
My opinions reign true. 

Sensitive, probing and holding thoughts that speak to each of us in our own needs, Vincent has succeeded in this second collection of poems that his is a voice worthy of our following.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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