The Fight for Life


Poetry - Inspirational
386 Pages
Reviewed on 01/24/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a volume of powerful poetry that moves and inspires. This award-winning author presents slice-of-life poems on a variety of subjects that go deep and wide, and that almost anyone can relate to in one way or another, or learn from. Most of all, you will be inspired by his journey from a twelve-year-old boy who was abused by a scout leader, to a young married man, to a college student, to a Vietnam veteran who began to hate himself after coming home from the war--which was understandable, since a lot of Americans hated returning soldiers too. This self-loathing isn't unique to veterans. Many experience regret, guilt, depression, PTSD, and mixed feelings. But Elliott's drove him to suicidal thoughts. Some of the poems are simple observations, and not all are about war. Some are about peace and forgiveness, while others are on the unique characteristics of animals, and commentary on nature. My favorites are about his emotions and experiences--deeply spiritual and touching. The ones about romance are nice, and you'll even find some humorous lines as well. Images punctuate the poems, though I think the poems stand fine on their own without them.

What I like about this volume of poetry is that it does more than just entertain. Any veteran or veteran's family reading it can take something away from it. Even if you aren't a veteran, these poems can help you understand what some veterans go through, regardless of which war it is. It may help some become less judgmental of soldiers. Some fights are external, some are internal, some are both. Elliot does a beautiful job showing you his life and what transpired through the years. And the recovery themes don't stop with veterans. The author also discusses his experience as a childhood sexual abuse survivor, and this too can help readers who still carry shame or confusion. To write a big chunk of your life in poems is an impressive task, and this author has accomplished it and then some. The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a work of poetry that you can linger over and return to time and again.

Asher Syed

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a compilation of the author's poetry, the book's name having been derived from Elliott's deep depression as a Vietnam war veteran and the ensuing suicide attempts, followed by what he describes as God's fight to save his life. This is also detailed in the book's titular poem under its own chapter heading. Elliott, a prolific poet, offers up over two hundred original pieces of work. These range in length, tone, tenor, and in the depth of their subject matter from poems like The Deer, about the beauty of an animal in its natural habitat, to My Family, an ode to his siblings and wife who rallied around Elliott through his most troubling times, and on to pieces like Jail, wherein Elliot shares a rhythmic tale about his sixty-day incarceration and the friendship forged between steel bars.

The Fight for Life took me a bit longer than most books of poetry do, given the sheer volume of William T. Elliott's work and the depth and complexity of his most poignant poems. I'm not sure I've ever read so many on such a wide range of different topics, and for this reason, I found myself setting it aside and having to come back—which is a good thing. Elliott stands out in that his poems all have a lyrical quality and all have their own structural meters, eschewing the trend of free verse and instead utilizing the classic format. The most heartbreaking, standout piece to me is Abuse, which details Elliott's unthinkable experience as a young boy who was sexually abused on a camping trip with the Boy Scouts of America, having been manipulated into a horrifying initiation by a Patrol Captain. There is a great deal of courage that Elliott had to dig deep to find in sharing these profoundly honest pieces and for his service, his sacrifice, his pain, and the love he has found through his family and God, I'd give him a whole bucket of gold stars if I could. Very highly recommended.

Grace Masso

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a collection of short poems that are well-written, entertaining, and, most often, soulful. The author captures in the lines featured in these poems his observations of life — and the poetic eye pierces through the mundane experiences and elements that readers encounter every day and lifts them to a place of beauty — experiences lived through childhood, reminiscences of the Vietnam experience, and a lot more. There is something very intimate about William T. Elliott’s poetry as he allows his emotions and thoughts to flow through the skillfully worded sentences.

The poems are very observant in nature, and the author evokes strong imagery, bringing to life elements of nature like the snowflakes, the moving brush, the smell in the air of the Missouri River, the feel of a kiss, the deer, and many others. The poems are delightful, covering a variety of themes — the experience of life after the Vietnam War, nature, love, sexual abuse, forgiveness, humanity, and society. This collection is a master’s work and I could feel that the author writes with confidence, creating free verses that are rhythmic and that have a stamp of their own. While the poems explore the personal experiences and thoughts of the author, the universal themes featured in the collection, and the appealing tone in which they are written make them enjoyable. The Fight for Life is inspiring and a well-crafted collection for fans of poetry. I loved the length of the poems, the author’s economy of words, and the familiar diction.

Lesley Jones

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is an eclectic collection of thought-provoking, funny and uplifting poetry. William shares his passion for the environment and wildlife with many poems relating to his observations of the world around him. His recollections of the relationships with his parents and wife are sometimes humorous and reflective and other times heartbreakingly sad. There are memories of childhood pranks and situations which will be appreciated by readers of all ages. Being a veteran of the Vietnam war, William recounts his time at war, the emotions he felt and the aftermath when he was rejected by a huge proportion of society. With photography from William's personal collection, beautiful landscapes and places of interest in South Dakota, the aura of the entire book will draw you into William's world as he shares his innermost thoughts and beliefs. Williams showcases the best and worse of humanity, society in general, and the relationships we form with one another.

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a brutally honest and heartfelt collection. The poems around his experiences in Vietnam were the most poignant for me; his words epitomize his every emotion and the love for his country so well. This was apparent especially in The Veteran, 'and does not argue of the cost to keep the land then free.' and The Fallen, 'inside these men and women, of iron and metal made, I see within a struggle still, to make the battles fade.' William's love for his wife is apparent although he does allow us an insight into her irritating habits which were hilarious. His poetry around animals and nature were quirky, descriptive and crammed with vivid descriptiveness that ignites every one of your senses. I loved The Paperclip - it was extremely funny and William's thoughts would definitely be shared by many.

The subject matter in this collection is vast from love, family dynamics and hope to recollections of childhood memories and loss. William pours his heart out onto the page and his use of the English language will warm the heart of any reader. His relationship with his father was terribly heartbreaking to read. I could feel the mixture of sadness and frustration over his tragic demise. He dedicates many poems to both his parents but I feel The Fool, regarding losing his father, was my favorite, 'and watched him take his final breath, to death the drink had led.' A fantastic collection of work.

Vincent Dublado

The Fight for Life is William T. Elliott’s collection of poems reflecting that he is one of those souls who find healing in the power of verse. Poetry represents an important part of Elliot’s colorful observations and experiences. These poems are divided into different topics ranging from his reflections of everyday life, his dealing with profound loss from the death of his wife, his Vietnam experience, and his candid revelation of sexual abuse. Most of his poems reflect his existential angst that is brought about by the hatred of a country to servicemen who answered the call of duty, and he initially responded by developing a hatred for himself as well. Through poetry, he has managed to channel that self-hatred into something creative and therapeutic. Coupled with a strong faith in a Higher Power, he dedicates this anthology on behalf of all Vietnam era veterans and to that twelve-year-old boy who fled through a dark lonely forest to escape sexual abuse.

The title of this anthology, The Fight for Life, describes God’s fight to keep Elliot from taking his own life after he had been released from a psychiatric ward. Most war veterans are scarred for life, and it takes its toll on their psychological well-being. This book, however, is not limited to his observations about his Vietnam experience but is about his life in general and his facility for verse. At the heart of his poems lie typically the evoking sensations of his profound relationship with creatures and things. I like The Cat that Sneezed where he writes about his cat that caught a cold. In a subtle way, you understand how a pet can profoundly affect your path toward healing. You can feel the variety of emotions that inhabit each of his poems, and reading this anthology will make you bear witness to Elliot’s creativity.