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Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite
Grain by Doug Bentley is an erudite, insightful, and provocative poetic journey through the mystical regions of the human psyche. From first word to last, this thought-provoking volume of sonnets and free verse begs to be pondered - to be mulled over and savored like a fine wine. Shakespearean and scientific references inform each of the meticulously crafted sonnets and free verse poems in Grain. Eternal questions are asked but seldom answered - in classic Socratic style, each question leads to another question. From ‘Gravity 1’: “one lifetime is a thousand too short/to learn the answers to every question/but instinct has a notion.”
Similarly, each poem flows seamlessly into the next, the end result being a kind of poetic massage for the reader’s brain awash in mundane cares. Grain offers the thinking reader a metaphysical vacation - an escape from the ordinary. The pause is both refreshing and enlightening. Each of the ten sonnets strung like pearls in the opening section of Grain combines timeless form with a contemporary delivery that could easily seem anachronistic in the hands of a lesser poet. Doug Bentley’s expert craftsmanship blends old and new with a natural fluidity few can achieve. From ‘Sonnet 24’: "tragedy struck last night on the tv screen/there's no turning away from this conclusion/wings of the age bring war/a phoenix scream/chills blood. our children inherit confusion."
It seems they will also inherit a wealth of nimble, eloquent sonnets and free verse poems from a masterful contemporary poet named Doug Bentley. This book has much to teach and a timeless cadence that imbues its wisdom with wonder. To quote William Shakespeare, of whom the author is so nobly fond: “The object of Art is to give life a shape (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Doug Bentley’s Grain is an enduring and welcome addition to the literature that will shape worlds to come.