By John Kaniecki
Published by Dreaming Big Publications
Reviewed by Amy Owings
ABOUT THE BOOK
Poet to the Poor is a collection of poetry that gives a voice to those subjected to poverty, poor working conditions, racism, and other forms of social injustice. In this collection author John Kaniecki sympathizes with famous figures such as Emmett Till, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce people, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, while advocating for equality and unconditional kindness. Kaniecki presents a call to action to erase social ills and move toward a more socialist and pacifist society.
Poet to the Poor was an impassioned anthology of poetry that impressed me by covering a large variety of social issues and debates, from the (non)efficacy of capitalism and war to the extinction of the Western Black rhino. Despite this wide variety, the collection successfully maintained a common thread of oppression and inequality throughout the majority of the poems.
The strict rhyme schemes and compact lines read almost like rap songs, offering the poems a pleasant lyrical quality. While I sometimes found the imagery a little bland, I was impressed by lines such as these: “black is the color of imagination / The whispering sentiment of salvation / A nestled womb warm and secure / A vacuum of emptiness pure.”
One criticism for this collection is that certain poems lacked characterization—for instance, one poem presented the emotional situation of a woman lamenting the loss of her husband at his grave, but did not offer enough details about either the woman or man to create a unique or surprising narrative that grabbed my attention. Kaniecki’s strongest poems, then, were those centered on recognizable figures such as the characters of The Wizard of Oz and built on societal critiques rather than characterization.
Overall this was a thought-provoking collection of poetry that caused me to reconsider the structures of our society and the ways in which many people are disenfranchised by the greedy and the prejudiced.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Kaniecki is a member of the Revolutionary Poet's Brigade and Secretary for Rhyming Poet's International. John volunteers as a missionary in the inner city of Newark, New Jersey, for the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue. John is active in the antiwar movement. In particular John is a strong advocate of the rights of indigenous people. He has two previously published books: a poetry book entitled "Murmurings of a Mad Man" by eLectio Publishing, and a science fiction story collection entitled "Words of the Future" published by Witty Bard Publishing.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.