Reviewed by London Koffler
About the Book:
In a collection based in self-exploration and realization, Kaniecki takes on issues of mental illness, abuse, and religious actualization. Kaniecki's usage of imagery and theme express a relatable yet unique story of discovery, failure, and hope. The reader is taken on a journey through childhood experiences, growing pains, finding love and Christ, and living with the aftermath of mental illness. This hard look at mental health offers a critique of the current system while expressing hope for a brighter future.
My Review: 4/5
I found Polishing the Fragments to be a smart, thoughtful, and easy read. It feels authentic and vulnerable, and the images he paints are clear. No poem seems to be without purpose, and they all connect to tell the story of the author’s life. He is unafraid to discuss difficult topics that he has had to face, such as mental illness, abuse, and death. What I found particularly interesting were the connections he makes to his faith by way of strong religious themes and allusions throughout. While he is unmistakably religious, he also shows that even he sometimes struggles with knowing his place in God’s plan.
I gave Polishing the Fragments a four out of five rating because although the collection is short and the poems easy to understand, I had to read it over several days. It is a heavy read that deals with topics that are, at times, overwhelmingly dark. There are, however, some glimmers of hope in certain poems, and the collection together forces the reader to confront topics that are often avoided. If you can tolerate this type of content, I would highly recommend this thought-provoking collection. Through some truly haunting lines, Kanieki’s messages linger long after you finish reading.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.
About the Author:
John Kaniecki was born in Brooklyn, New York. Though having no memories of life there, John is proud to be called a Native New Yorker. John was raised in Pequanock Township, New Jersey. At age twenty John was baptized and became a member of the Church of Christ. Presently John resides in Montclair, NJ and lives with his wife of over twelve years Sylvia. The happy couple attend the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue in Newark, NJ. John is very active in outreach and teaching as part of the leadership of the congregation.
John’s personal story of dealing with and overcoming with mental illness can be read in “More Than The Madness.” It is a book that explores the humanity in us all while giving first hand insight into mental illness.
John's first book "Murmurings of a Mad Man" is a poetry book. This work deals with a dark time in John's life when he suffered from manic depression. John was hospitalized at Graystone, the same place where Woody Guthrie was kept. This book dealing with the madness is not only a book of hope and faith but it is written in most strict poetic form. It is vastly far from the free verse that permeates the poetry world today.
John's second book is entitled "Words of the Future". This books has six science fiction stories all written by John. John without a question the book is unique and you will find John's writing both compelling and thrilling.
John has just let out his third book entitled "Poet to the Poor, Poems of Hope for the Bottom One Percent". This leaves little doubt as to where John's heart belongs. Not to the pampered pretties living in privilege but with the down and out clinging on to existence. Not only is "Poet to the Poor" revolutionary in thought but it's poems are easily accessible. The majority of which celebrate the rhyming poems of years gone by. It's a book not to be missed.
Other poetry books include the Christian themed “A Day’s Weather” and “Sunset Sonnets”. "A Day's Weather" is a feel good book about life being depicted by the weather of a day. "Sunset Sonnets" is an uplifting and spiritual look at death. John spent eight years with the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue serving as a volunteer missionary to the inner city of Newark, New Jersey.
John also is the author of a warm book about life called “The Lost Cantos Of John Kaniecki”. This book employs meter and rhyme.
John has ventured further into the realm of horror with his books, “Scarecrow, Scarecrow”, “Satan’s Siren” and the upcoming books “In The Mind Of Maggoo” and “Myroniac”. These books are gripping tales exploring the dark recesses of life.
Also John has written an exciting humorous science fiction book entitled “I Should Have Been A Rock Star”. This book is definitely not something to miss and sure to be a classic.