Poems from the Bottom of the Rock

Poetry - General
281 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Poems from the Bottom of the Rock by J.R. Kinney is a powerfully moving collection of poems about hitting rock bottom but finding hope to come out from beneath it. It took almost two years for this volume of poetry to be written and it explores a myriad of experiences and emotions, from the lowest lows to the highest highs. We've all made mistakes and taken wrong turns, and this is the thrust of the poems, told in an emotionally engaging style that will connect with readers. In a way, it feels as if you're reading tiny slices of life, or personal essays, or someone's journal. But these aren't merely random thoughts captured on paper. Rather, they're well-thought-out phrases that are sometimes concrete, sometimes abstract, but always insightful and inspiring - some truly beautiful - about broken people, forgiveness, and second chances.

Kinney has written a volume of poetry that can actually help others through dark times, so the meaning of these poems is almost self-help in nature but also aesthetically pleasing and constructed with purpose. This poet's voice is distinct, and you will know from the first poem that it's a gifted voice. The coverage of life and its eclectic details seems limitless, evident in titles like "Water," "Lament of a Dead Rock Star," and "Freedom From Freedom," just to name a few. You can feel great rhythm and weight in some of the poems and lightness, simplicity, and playfulness in others. Being a writer of poetry myself, I especially appreciate the process and motivations for writing poetry. If you want a volume of poetry that covers a wide range of subjects and styles that will make you feel and think at the same time, then please treat yourself to Poems from the Bottom of the Rock by J.R. Kinney.

Pikasho Deka

Poems from the Bottom of the Rock are poems written over a span of nineteen months by J.R. Kinney. The book is divided into twelve chapters based on forms encompassing various subject matter and themes. In "A Prayer from the Fallen," the narrator seeks God's help to show him the way after straying from the righteous path. "Why the Tortoise Wins" is a delightful rendition of the age-old children's tale with a unique twist in verse. "Freedom from Religion" is a critique of the way leaders of organized religions quite often tend to act against the very nature of God. "Privilege" is a poignant sonnet that contemplates how, unlike wild animals, humans can make choices that define our lives. "The Name Song" encourages you to associate your name with good deeds.

Incorporating a wide range of styles, forms, and influences, author J.R. Kinney pens a beautiful collection of poems that get through to your soul. This collection contains introspective poems that leave a lot to ponder about long after you've finished reading the book. J.R. Kinney seems well-versed in various styles ranging from romantic era poems to sometimes abstract and even postmodern. Due to the author's religious background, a lot of poems include Biblical references. However, this is a book that can be enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike. I had a wonderful time wandering through its pages. If you consider yourself a poetry lover, I highly recommend Poems from the Bottom of the Rock.

Vincent Dublado

In JR Kinney’s introduction to his work, Poems from the Bottom of the Rock, he states that being a poet gives the heart and mind an outlet to express themselves in ways that ordinary language cannot adequately express. With that in mind, his anthology hopes to allow his consciousness to reach out to other people and collectively seek refuge and comfort in the power of verse. A product of nineteen months of writing, this anthology is a mixed bag of different styles, forms, genres, and themes, and it even includes some that do not exactly represent the author’s best work. This is in order to give you that raw, unadulterated emotion, a piece of the author where he hopes that you can also find a piece of yourself.

Each of us has unique quirks or traits and our own creative way of sharing a piece of ourselves. Poems from the Bottom of the Rock is JR Kinney’s means of sharing episodes of himself with others, most of whom he will never meet, and it is a vital aspect of his work that is worth paying attention to. He wants you to understand yourself better by connecting your existential concerns to his. As a poet, he claims to have numerous influences, but they all reflect an adherence to structure. Noticeable in his poems is their romantic tone that is consistent in maintaining a steady course of his sentiments even he writes a verse about giving a cat a bath or an ode to a spider. Self-expression for Kinney is an intuitive definition—using his skills with the written word to reveal an authentic inner self. And because of that, read what Kinney has to offer because yes, you will find a piece of yourself in this work.