Book Review — Ficklestein

This Book Needs A Title by Theodore Ficklestein
(AuthorHouse, 2013, ISBN 978-1481746663, $28.99)
by Scott Holstad

What is there to say about Theodore Ficklestein’s new book, This Book Needs A Title? It’s witty. It’s humorous. It’s not traditional. It’s also a bit trite and therein lies the problem. See, this book is overly self referential in that many of the poems are about those poems themselves, and after awhile the gimmick wears thin. You could probably open the book to any page and find just such a poem. Witness:

“Short Career”

Someone told me I will have a very short career as a poet.
I will never publish a poem.
Better yet a book of poetry.
He made it clear that I would never finish one of my poems.
I am glad to say I proved him wrong.

Or,

“A Profound Poem”

This poem is quite profound.
Why?
You can’t see how profound this is.
Do you not see it?
Yup.
That’s how profound it is.

But also witty:

“Poem On Page 92”

I’m sorry for the confusion but the poem intended for this page is on page 92.

This poem can be found on page 56 in the book. Clever, no?

Some of the author’s poems can have truths and half-truths buried in them that do border on profound, however.

“One Rule”

There is only one rule for us to follow on this earth.
Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Is it that hard to follow?
Apparently.
We seem to have a hard time with it.
Good thing there aren’t two rules or we would really be sunk.

You won’t find traditional poetic devices such as imagery and metaphor in this book. But that’s okay. Bukowski’s one of my favorites and he was never much into poetic devices. You will find a lot of humor. But again, some of it’s so insipid that it’s hard to take the book or the author seriously as a writer – from “Peom 731”: Oh goddamn it!/My dyslexia is starting to kcik in./Really I had it udenr control for a while but it kepes gttening worse and wosre…. You get the picture. Funny for a few poems, but this book is big at 226 pages and there’s only so much of that you can take. Still, Ficklestein doesn’t care if his humor isn’t fully appreciated, as he makes clear in “Be Serious”:

I will be serious here and write of the tough endeavors of the human experience.
There will be a metaphor here.
One you may or not get.
My poetry will be professional from now on.
Like Whitman or Dickinson.
And I will be a “real” poet.
Writing multiple stanzas with multiple meanings for the minority of readers.
Nah.
I’d rather write wise cracks.
Jokes are the only thing that makes poetry fun.
Poetry without humor is like talking to an old person in a retirement home.
Sure I can learn a lot but I wouldn’t have any fun doing it.
No offence to any old person out there.

At least he’s honest. He maintains his integrity throughout the book, which is more than can be said for many poets. And it’s a very “even” book. Not too many highs, not too many lows. It’s lighthearted and Ficklestein doesn’t take himself too seriously, so if you’re looking for a light book of poetry and you’re turned off by the masters, perhaps this is the one for you. At $29, it’s a bit pricey, but it is big, so maybe it’s worth it. I’m going to close with one of the poems found toward the back of the book. Maybe this is the most insightful poem Ficklestein provides us:

“Outdated”

One day this poem, this book will be outdated.
And my name will be forgotten.
All the references I used will need a note next to them to better explain themselves.
That’s really gonna hurt all of my jokes.
Damn.
To think I was funny.
No matter how much I put into this.
Or how much I think I am ahead of the curve.
Time will eventually make my work a thing of the past.
Damn.
To think I don’t even have a joke for that either.

You can find this book on Amazon and elsewhere.

______________________________________________________________

About Scott C. Holstad

Scott Holstad is the poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review.