Of all the genres of the written word none is more uniquely personal than poetry. It is personal to the author, but also personal to the reader. Often times you can show a relatively short poem to 10 different people and you will get 10 different interpretations. Some people like to delve for the deeper meaning while others might enjoy the writing at surface level, the the cleaver use of the English language, the meter, or even just the sound of the words.

Like most people my introduction to poetry was the brutal mauling of classic works in English Literature classes. I will admit that it was not until several years later that I became interested in poetry. That epiphany occurred when I picked up a copy of a slim book by three contemporary poets titled the Mersey Sound. Odd that I can still remember the title 40 years later, but that is the profound power of poetry.

Hudson Owen has been writing poetry for over 40 years and this new collection Selected Poems 1967-2007 showcases 63 works spanning the four decades. My wife saw the book and made the remark that as it was so short it should take me no time at all to read it. Not so, I have been dipping into it for the past three days, and every exploration reveals some nuance that I had missed.

Hudson Owen is a wonderful writer, he is not fixated on style nor subject, his pen roams freely.

A poem does not need to be lengthy nor complex word wise to convey your message. Although the book is not in a strict chronological order, I am guessing (based on the title) that this short poignant piece was penned in the 60’s

Epitaph Of An American Soldier Killed In A Foreign Adventure – 1967

He was a boy
who was not a boy
a man who was
not yet a man.

He died in a war
that was not a war
in a land
that was not his land.

I am not sure how many times I have returned to this poem. It is simplistic yet superbly sums up the Vietnam War. Every time I open this book I gravitate to this interesting little piece.

The writing style changes throughout the book, and I think it would be fair to say that there is something for everyone within this slim tome.

I do have one very minor gripe, and that is just based on the way my mind works, and is fueled by my thirst for knowledge. I think it would have been fun for Hudson Owen to have ordered the poems in strict chronological order. It would have been revealing to see how his style and subject matter has grown and evolved over the years. I guess I am a closet FBI profiler!

I am hoping to interview Hudson in the next few days, I think that it will be an interesting discussion.

You can purchase your copy of Hudson Owen – Selected Poems 1967-2007 from iUniverse. Hudson also has a web site. Take my advice, forget those awful English Lit classes, poetry is a wonderful medium and more people should discover the pure joy of great writing. In other words, buy this book!

Simon Barrett


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