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I Will Listen If You Tell Me Who I Am

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Collection of poetry and short fiction. Seventeen of these works have been published in reputable journals, worldwide.


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Collection of poetry and short fiction. Seventeen of these works have been published in reputable journals, worldwide.

36 review for I Will Listen If You Tell Me Who I Am

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Escoubas

    I Will Listen If You Tell Me Who I am by John McCluskey 24 poems, 3 short stories, 80 pages Price: $14.95 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9986857-8-6 Library of Congress Control Number: 2019934432 Publisher: Summerfield Publishing, d.b.a. New Plains Press To Order: https://newplainspress.com and/or Amazon.com Reviewed by Michael Escoubas Editor and Book Reviewer Quill and Parchment The poet John Keats once wrote, “If a sparrow come before my window I take part in its existence and pick out the gravel.” Of his new co I Will Listen If You Tell Me Who I am by John McCluskey 24 poems, 3 short stories, 80 pages Price: $14.95 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9986857-8-6 Library of Congress Control Number: 2019934432 Publisher: Summerfield Publishing, d.b.a. New Plains Press To Order: https://newplainspress.com and/or Amazon.com Reviewed by Michael Escoubas Editor and Book Reviewer Quill and Parchment The poet John Keats once wrote, “If a sparrow come before my window I take part in its existence and pick out the gravel.” Of his new collection, John McCluskey writes, “As my life progressed it became obvious to me that who I am is very likely different from who I think I am, and it takes experiences and interactions with others to reveal that.” That’s where McCluskey’s intriguing title comes into play along with the Keatsian quote above. The poet becomes one with the people closest to him, takes part in their lives “picks out the gravel” of his shared experiences with those significant others who, over time have shaped and defined him. The poet avers, “I listened most respectfully to their collective voice.” Titles I often do a pre-read of poetry books exploring the lay of the land through the titles poets assign to poems in their collections. With titles like Green Apple Pie, The Unfinished is Glorious and Shattering, Lemon Yellow Deep and Ice Cream and Mercy, who wouldn’t want to get a pastry and a steaming cup of coffee, sit in a comfortable chair, just to explore the content of great titles? Themes and Form I Will Listen If You Tell Me Who I Am, is not a boring book either in its themes or in its forms. Visually the collection is a treat. It contains a nice mixture of poems which are simply formatted flush left to the margin. I like the simplicity of presentation in these poems. By way of contrast many poems feature an array of complex indentions. In reading these poems I came to appreciate the art of reading poems slowly, savoring each word, pausing when a word appears on a line by itself, then, having felt deeply the intended impact of that word, I move on in concert with the poem’s progression. Result: mindfulness. McCluskey’s faith in God pervades the collection. I will hasten to say that the poet’s faith presentation is never gratuitous or overbearing. He is a man of faith; his faith has shaped his life. Green Apple Pie channels the Great Depression where his family had little, but somehow made do My father prays to God with remarkable fingernails. They do not fan out They are not pitted They have no ridges They are not chipped, bitten, or dirty— each a perfect cuticle U. In a child’s way, such details are remembered as small perfections rising out of the sufferings that defined their lives, like the memory of his mother baking green apple pie from the “load I carried home in my shirt.” Joy reveals a young boy’s happiness tinged with regret that he did not share with his father a moment of happiness even though his father spent Christmas in a Chicago hospital battling tuberculosis Children dotted alleys with new morning glee! I am so happy for my father, I should tell him so. I should have told him Thirty years ago. Never will. Just think I should. These lines remind me of my own life, for some inexplicable reason I hold back a word, a gesture that should have been offered but wasn’t. McCluskey, throughout the collection, is able to hold two opposing thoughts in his mind at the same time—you can’t get much truer to life than that. Short Stories You won’t want to skip over these gems: A Thousand Dimes is about Thanksgiving weekend in South Holland, Illinois in 1965. I was intrigued with how the poet uses all those dimes and was fascinated by “Big-Eyed Terry” and wondered why Matty and his pals Jeff, Robby and Billy Bankowski were standing at the top of Drexel Avenue looking up into the “furious snow”? With a title like My Father in the Walls I wondered if this short fiction would turn out to be a ghost story or perhaps a father keeping secret tabs on his children. Trust me on this one: McCluskey writes about relationships. In this case, a divorce is pending which threatens the all-important presence of the lad’s father in the home. Will the divorce happen? If it does, how will Matty navigate the choppy waters of loss? This is current stuff; this is where you and I live. While all three stories resonate in compelling tones with me, Silent Night, hits me hardest with its exploration of alcohol abuse within a family desperate to rise above its self- imposed suffering. In a heart-felt line channeling the pain of so many caught in its grip, Matty’s mother says, It’s not his fault. His father was so hard. McCluskey scores high marks for the visual power and emotionally-charged presentation of a struggling family. I return to where I began; to Keats’ dictum to “become” the very subjects you are writing about. If this is you, if you appreciate writers who become one with their characters and themes; click on the Amazon link above and order a copy of I Will Listen If You Will Tell Me Who I Am.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Toya Taylor

    Loved this!!! Felt bad for the boy who was in a bad family situation. And the funny thing about life is the girl that he held some type of resentment to.....that is the girl that he might marry. Recommend this and there are moments when your hearts strings will be pulled.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  4. 5 out of 5

    allison arkley

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Joyner

  7. 4 out of 5

    John McCluskey

  8. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

  10. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  11. 4 out of 5

    ***Book Lady ***

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zach Yancey

  13. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  14. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Senteney

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michele

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Simmons

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dannon Hewitt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Tilton

  22. 4 out of 5

    J

  23. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Roberson

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pat

  26. 4 out of 5

    Raymond Stone

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jerrilynn Atherton

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eva

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Pcenicni

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbie Campbell

  31. 5 out of 5

    Sherrie

  32. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  33. 5 out of 5

    Fred Steele

  34. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Muscat

  35. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  36. 4 out of 5

    Loren Palmer

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