Life, A Bit More?
by Andrew Thomas Elder
BookVenture Publishing, LLC

"Before a word is written, you are master of it. Once a word is written it is master of you."

When life deals a bad hand, human nature immediately looks to place blame, ultimately resorting to fate if no other culprit can be found. This is not the case in Elder’s compilation. Despite facing adverse circumstances, humility and perspective permeate all throughout the poems as the poet highlights faith and love as humanity’s redeeming factors.

As the poems generally tend to be introspective, Elder provides a “Notes” section after each poem that will allow readers to document their thoughts and emotions before they move forward. The act of writing itself is a unique factor because of its therapeutic nature. In particular, in poems like “Alzheimer’s Disease,” the imagery of the deteriorating brain is heart-wrenching. Though the poem does not exhibit any distinct rhyme scheme, the narrative prose serves Elder well by placing more of an emphasis on the potency of his words rather than that of the literary syntax or figurative language.

Possibly the most intriguing aspect of this collection is when it forays into the philosophical frame of mind. In “Andrew’s Epitaph,” readers are made privy to Edler’s harrowing accident at the hands of a drunk driver. The poem unravels gritty detail after detail of the author's experience—from being thrown one hundred and twenty feet to nearly drowning from punctured lungs. However, the ultimate reality is that he survived the encounter and forged himself with unyielding faith.

Though there is a range of topics covered in this text, the concept of coping stands out due to its pertinent place in today’s society. Whether the afflicted are high schoolers who don’t see any way out but death or adults meandering through life, poems like “Can Things or Life Get Better?” are vital to renewing their resolve and faith when so many external parts continue to try and break them down. The visual of this poem being executed in reality, where throughout the world good deeds are being done in all capacities, is gratifying. Interestingly, the most aesthetically stunning poem, “Can We Cope Without Drugs? Drugs,” delves into a similar topic of addiction. The syntax and structure of the poem make it look like the image of a stick figure and an hourglass, seemingly emblematic of time and life itself.

At the moment in humanity’s history where impatience and desire reign supreme, Elder highlights themes that are tied directly to the foundation that builds unshakeable faith. For instance, forgiveness, gratitude, liberty, and love are all discussed at length. Taking it one step further, he proposes that the audience engage in self-reflection and encourages them to begin with themselves the process of forgiveness and love. This acknowledgment is where the road to true liberty begins.

The remarkable aspect of this compilation is that the truth he encourages individuals to seek is one he has not only embraced but experienced in his own life. After losing everything, the poet states, he learned to appreciate what most take for granted, such as walking. Overall, Elder’s work not only inspires hope but gives readers a breather from the hustle of their daily lives to think about how they are living. At its core, the work is authentic, stemming from a personal experience that leads the poet to a stronger life of faith, love, and liberty.

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