Book Review – “Auto-Bio”

Review of “Auto-Bio”, by Peter William Stein
Amber Skye Publishing, 2010

Peter’s first full-length collection of poems is ambitious with potential in its themes and delivery mechanism.  Topics such as self, life, death, and God, all attempting to point to the same conclusion – the self is lost amidst the murky landscape –  are explored while looking for direction or a heavenly sign, and an exit from this, and an entrance to what is next.

Throughout the collection, I could not help feel the poems are somewhat disjointed.  There exists scattered beautiful imagery; however they are lost amidst a sea of adjectives placed with little substance, bringing little additional value to the poem.  If some of the images were allowed room to breathe, and not become bookended with unneeded verbiage, they would provide a launching pad to more complete poems that get to the point.

The poem “Mystical Monument” begins by calling a child a “mystical monument”, however the stanzas that follow give no clue or guide as to this grandiose statement.  The poem focuses on innocence of a child, versus the mothers potentially lost or skewed outlook, but nothing more.  What makes the child mystical?  I was not able to reach my own conclusion.

Notable poem: “Rest in Peace” with the opening lines of:

The peacefulness of sleep
amazes me

She wears it
like a wedding dress

Peter experiments with form utilizing spacing, parentheses, words or combinations with multiple meanings in poems such as “Euclid’s Perfect Insight”, a unique and refreshing arrangement, and “Self-Portrayal”, where the extra spaces have become overused as a break or forced pause for the reader.

One of the books reviews mentioned the intense quest for answers that often prove elusive.  I found myself puzzled, and burdened with too many questions, and too few answers, but do look forward to the next collection that may expand on the topics, hopefully from another light or angle, while retaining the inquisitive nature of a child.

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