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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
Fathers: Collected Poems 1973-2015 is exactly as its title indicates, a collection of deeply personal and oftentimes moving poems written between 1973 and 2015 by poet Ken Koprowski. As we grow from children to adulthood, we are exposed to various forms of poetry throughout our lives, whether in the form of simple nursery rhymes, funny limericks, or in the form of more typically regimented poetry presented in uniform stanzas told in iambic pentameter. Regardless of the type of poem, poetry is very personal to the individual writing it and, more often than not, it is extremely difficult to critique due to its personal nature.
Arguably, Koprowski’s collection is more prose than poems in the conventional sense. However, it is abundantly clear that they come from a person who writes from the soul and whose expressions come from the heart. The poet’s offerings are divided into sections: Beyond Reach, House of Death, Is it Love, Beginning and A Taste of Postcards to the Living. Having experienced the riches and sorrows that life has offered, Koprowski’s prose weaves an intricate tapestry that shows us the undeniable progression of age and the pride in family in Saint Augustine Street in the Summer to the horrors of war from the vantage point of lying in a trench nearing death, surrounded by your fellow soldiers, many of whom have succumbed in Croix de Guerre. In order to write effectively, a writer or poet must be able to feel to the deepest core of his or her being and then have the ability to translate those feelings effectively into written words. This is transmitted no more eloquently than in Elegy for Buck: Six-pointer where Koprowski writes: “Did they notice heartbeat, respiration ended or see two bullet holes between your shoulder and neck, Did they ask your crime, Is this the proper way to celebrate your death, Old Ford bearing your penniless eyes in my rear-view mirror, tail trickling red on the hood…”
The depths of sadness and inevitability are poignantly showcased in Sepsis, where the poet’s father is near death from sepsis before he’s given a last-minute reprieve as the antibiotics finally kick in – although things are never the same again: “Never the same. Trading dignity for catheters, leg wraps, infections, diapers, and walkers. Cancer returns. More infections. Slowly shrinking from sight. A new life of dying begins.” Simple words, conveyed with a depth of emotion, serve to resonate and move, especially for those whose lives have been affected by the horrors of this disease. Fathers: Collected Poems 1973-2015 offers a walk through life and the opportunity to see and feel through the eyes of a poet whose life has been enriched by all life has to offer.