Hitting the Black Wall is a book that I never thought I would end up reviewing, mainly because it is a poetry book. Poetry is one of those things that people will love or loathe. And having known a few poets in my time, the torture that comes from writing poetry is something that can’t be imagined. There is a saying/story about poets spending all morning decided if a comma should be placed at the end of a sentence, then to spend all afternoon agonizing whether it should be removed.
Hitting the Black Wall, like any poetry book, is an insight into the soul and the mindset of the writer. This book is dark. The author has said it himself, “This book isn’t wildflowers and butterflies”. All the poetry in Hitting the Black Wall is written by Paul Scott-Bates, a poet who has been expressing himself on the internet for a few years now on his blog. This is his first published book with a collection of over 50 original poems. And like I said, they are dark. They are uncomfortable thoughts that stir in the back of the mind that have been expressed by Paul thought words.
Thoughts on the poems
Right from the outset, you are smacked in the face with the darkness that this book contains. There is no breaking us in gently! The first poem, Gone, crashes into your mind with images of cold steel and emotional detachment from the beginning. But as we move through the book, we are presented with poems that show lost loves, lost lives, and the voids that come and go from this emotional rollercoaster that we call life. At times we are plunged into deep darkness and forced to confront emotions that we might not be used to seeing in ourselves. Other times, we are shown humor in the darkness. And some are filled with complete compassion for another human being.
Thoughts on the Author
They say that poetry, or any writing, is a window into the soul. Paul appears to have used his poetry as a safe way to deal with his demons over the years. The poems are not a reflection of true events but are clearly a way for him to express himself in a safe way. I don’t know John and I’ve never had the pleasure of speaking to him, so I can only speculate what has gone on in his mind or his life. I don’t like doing that, mainly because I would feel like I’m profiling him. But what I will say is this- John, like everyone else on this planet, has dealt with love, loss and everything in-between, that’s called life. Even if the dark moments, the emotional inspiration for these poems, only lasted a minute, he has done a bloody good job of grabbing them and shaking them out for the sake of his art.
As I said at the beginning of this review, this is a dark book. But it is wonderful to read. Too often these days we see poetry that is filled with sunshine and rainbows. If you are looking for those things, go read a different book. This is a disturbing read which makes it closer to art in my opinion. “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”. I don’t know who said that, but in this case it is very true. The collection that you will find in these pages will reach into your head and your heart, give them a rattle, and exercise those demons inside of you.