Age and Experiences
by Robert Duddle
BookVenture Publishing LLC

I will only live in your thoughts so please
Think of me."

The author began writing poems in his eighties after the death of his wife of fifty-six years. He has continued to put that latent talent to use in creating a fine collection of poems. Being an octogenarian has given Duddle the privilege and responsibility to write with authority on both age and experience. This English author was born in 1931 between two great wars that cost the world, and especially the British, deeply in lives lost. Therefore, it is not surprising that traumatic and needless death becomes one of the important themes in this book.

Duddle mourns the loss of his dear wife and life companion to cancer in his maiden poem, “Here Still.” Unashamed to declare that ‘tears may run down” his face, these now represent more joy than sorrow. Elsewhere in the book, he accosts any remaining apathetic readers with a poetic glimpse of “Tyne Cot” in Belgian, the largest British war burial site in the world. Tyne Cot Memorial commemorates soldiers of the United Kingdom and New Zealand who died during World War I in the “mud of Passchendaele” as allied forces fought soldiers of the German Empire.

As a man in his eighties, the author understandably mourns lost youth. In “The Watch” he cleverly applies anthropomorphism so readers can appreciate the embarrassment of being a broken watch, one that still looks fine but only tells the right time twice a day. A more positive response to aging is to consider the importance of life experiences, such as travel. In “To Petra” he writes of his fear of travel but ends up venturing to visit the hidden rock city in a mountainous region of Jordan. Even at Petra, his focus stops at the wall carvings and tombs of the dead.

A must-read poem in this book is titled “Ninth of August.” Using wordplay, the author tricks a casual reader into believing he writes of the 911 tragedy. Duddle notices a lad who was about his same age at the time of the event. With heartfelt thanks, the author demonstrates understanding as a healing component of age and experience.

This book falls into the new genre of poetry as memoir; it uses poetic glimpses, rather than prose, to capture and relate important events about an author’s life. This fresh approach combined with the author’s inclination to share his life story with others has produced a short but captivating volume. A great advantage of age is the ability to analyze everything, from personal dreams to world happenings, on the basis of what has gone before. That historicity is lightened when accompanied by a knack for viewing life with humor, hope, and the occasional use of wordplay and anthropomorphism.

A background in electrical engineering motivates this promising poet to approach each poem with attention to detail as well as passion. Duddle’s focused threads and singular viewpoint can only be enhanced by technical expertise acquired through the additional practice of his craft. The seventy-page book is laid out with an empty page after each poem, and these blank pages almost beg for more reminisces from the pen of this talented octogenarian.

Return to USR Home