The Dog and I

Twenty-seven Poems

Poetry - General
49 Pages
Reviewed on 07/24/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

I usually avoid reviewing books of poetry for one simple reason: these are the hardest books to review. But after I read the poem excerpt Michael Pedretti used in his description of the Dog and I, a short collection of 27 of his poems, I knew I had to read all the rest. How loudly he spoke to me when he wrote: "I’m holding on really tight/An avalanche gives no warning/Nor does a sinkhole." The truth, the relevance of those three lines to my own life and, no doubt, to millions of others, was as immediate as the recent Surfside condo collapse or the 2004 Tsunami. What else would Pedretti share with me? It turns out what he shares in surface simple words and short phrases are loaded with implications and deep meanings. These are his perceptions on life…its often missed opportunities for love.

Pedretti reflects on how we rush about our lives doing what we feel is important, like shopping at Walmart for the latest must-haves or painting a cottage instead of enjoying the wind and waves near the beach. He immortalizes the homeless welfare mama scorned and pre-judged by luckier others. Then there’s the poem about his brother in Vietnam: his brother mentions an argument centered on whether to use a round or rectangular table during the peace talks. Like, how much sense does that make to "the men/ducking lead/over there?"

Pedretti is a master of poignant juxtaposition that demands you stop and think before reading on. Short, well-chosen words that say so much. Nowadays, minimalism is very much in vogue. It permeates Pedretti’s poems, and this minimalism makes his poems so powerful. Every word, every phrase, every poem counts. Each line packs an unforgettable punch. I absolutely loved this collection. It reminds me of what first attracted me to this type of short blank verse poetry back in the 1960s, the kind I often tried to write myself, several of which are sadly buried in a moldy-smelling box in my basement. By the way, why is this collection titled the Dog and I? Read it and find out. Seems Pedretti, the Dog and I have something in common when it comes to putting a book of poems together.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Life is full of ups and downs. Things may go well for a time, then something or someone interferes, and we wonder if things will ever be right again. There are the blips of life when we are younger, the “sinkhole” as we age, and the inevitable wanderings of a certain dog who only likes to use the left sneaker for his business – not just once but repeatedly. “Dog is mistaken for goD/Failure is an art/Recovery takes great skill.” Makes a person wonder, is there a point? Raw thoughts on life and all it means as “the dog ran swiftly down the street/ looking.”

Michael Pedretti’s chapbook, The Dog and I: Twenty-seven Poems, is a collection of life poems, all abstract and free verse, ranging in topics from the poet’s life from the age of three to seventy-three. The themes focus on life events and how, all through life, we dodge the pitfalls; sometimes we recover, sometimes we don’t. The dog poems, interspersed among the other life poems, follow a trend of growing up, maturing, seeing life differently, dealing with different issues while adding a little metaphoric humor to the more serious nature of the other poems. But there’s also a hidden agenda, an unseen depth to the dog poems as well. This collection of poems is a compelling read, one that will take many reads to appreciate their depth of expression fully. And, in the end, “you might think/ the dog would have found/ a new paradigm/ fresh method of doing business/after all we have progressed.” Of course, sometimes we are all mere creatures of habit, and life is as simple as the title suggests: The Dog and I.

K.C. Finn

The Dog and I: Twenty-seven Poems is a collection of poetry suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Michael Pedretti. The poetry collected in this anthology covers a variety of themes using a minimalist style of writing. Some of the themes explored by the poems include warfare, homelessness, the relentless pace of life, and the author’s relationship with his dog. Whilst the themes tackled are large and heavy in nature, the poet is sure to include the occasional humorous moment.

The reflections in this collection of poems are fascinating and thought-provoking examinations of some areas of life that occupy a lot of our minds. Feelings about the pace at which we’re forced to live our lives, stopping us from fully experiencing the wonder of them, are something I suspect most of us have had over the years. The presumptions about homeless people offer another universal theme that is touched on with great success as Michael Pedretti’s minimalist imagery allows us to fill in the blanks in the poem with our own experiences. Where I found myself most interested though was in the poems about Vietnam as these were centered around the experiences of the poet’s brother during the conflict there. These are less universal and relatable for the average reader, but The Dog and I’s signature style left me contemplating the bigger issues at play as I read those poems. This is a short collection compared to others in this style, but it left me hungry for more work by the poet.