These stand-alone poems were written over many years. While individually they describe the conflicts associated with alcoholism, when read together they reveal a more complete picture of the destruction, depression, and chaos of addiction, as well as the peace, hope, and joy of recovery. Although most of these poems pertain to my life, it is my hope that other people will relate to them also. It’s not only my story but the story of so many others.
An interesting walk through the emotional journey of a recovering alcoholic. It’s not pretty early on—it covers the difficulties of alcoholism, denial, the harm caused by the behavior, and the turmoil and rock bottom involved in a turnaround. I’d recommend being in an empathetic mood needing to self-reflect or wanting to understand turmoil, but don’t go in if you’re susceptible to the depressing early poems bringing you down. Just be careful. What I Liked: -The font and formatting was nice and fitting for the text. -There were ups and downs and downs and small ups followed by downs. I’m glad it ended on an up note so I wasn’t left with no release from the emotional weight of the journey, but it was very good to have things waiver a lot to simulate the reality of the journey. -The poems were easy to understand, which is good for someone like me who can’t deal in abstraction too much. -What readers will like best is the emotional journey of the story told through poetry. It really takes you along—even areas that would seem redundant typically are actually necessary to reinforce the real redundant nature of the recurring habits that lead to the addiction and downfall. So what would normally be a criticism actually becomes a strength here. I think the author did this intentionally, which is bold and inspired—especially knowing that some readers would dismiss it as repetitive. -There are Christian themes that were communicated in a way that a respectful atheist or agnostic can appreciate. Nitpicks: -Not really a nitpick, but it is pretty obvious that it’s about one’s emotional journey and finding peace through AA and Christianity, so if you’re looking for other tangible solutions or best practices, that’s not what this is about (nor what anyone would normally expect from poetry). -If you’re an uber-critic of poetry and experienced in alcoholism, you might say that this ground has been treaded before, but this isn’t exactly a blockbuster movie so it’s not fair to grade it on being unique. -As an overarching narrative, I feel like a couple of (more) mentions of support or other ways of pulling through would’ve really rounded it out. For me, it seemed to go from greater and greater tragic poems to a turnaround, struggle to hold, and then some progress. It seemed like there was no support system mentioned other than God and AA. Maybe that’s all the author had (it was mentioned that other support was gone). I feel like some of that could’ve been explored a little more for more satisfaction on the reader’s part about how those struggles were managed. Some of that was glossed over in later parts, whereas different angles of destruction were described in detail earlier on. I feel like it could’ve matched well with poems about how keeping busy volunteering, meeting with the sponsor, etc. were ways to keep out of trouble. Like early on, maybe a few examples would’ve really brought that through. Other Thoughts: -I’m glad I read this for one small epiphany: many people recovering see and treat every day as a struggle. On one hand, I get that early on and during rough patches that of course you have to see it as something you need to ward off when you’re susceptible. On the other hand, seeing it as a constant struggle will in and of itself weigh on one’s psyche. So I’m ambivalent about the use of the “constant struggle” description–I think that it works early on and needs to be seen that way to be wary, but I think that that attitude has to go away or it’ll become a burden. Life is meant to be good, interesting, and something you look forward to. Seeing everything as a struggle leads to dread.
David Ritter (Author)
It’s not only my story but the story of so many others.