Robert Beveridge's Reviews > Contemplate

Contemplate by Gwen Frostic
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Apr 18, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: finished, owned-and-gave-away
Recommended for: no one. for the love of god, no one.
Read on March 29, 2011 , read count: 1

Gwen Frostic, Contemplate (Presscraft Papers, 1978)

All that time I spent looking for a copy of Wing-borne (q.v., review 21Mar2011), and a couple of days later I discover that for some amount of that time, I actually had another Frostic book sitting on my shelf. Must have picked it up at a library book sale sometime in the past decade. I considered just tossing it in the Half-Price Books box without reading, given that Wing-Borne was so bad, but I am that peculiar strain of book geek who has a hard time letting a volume pass through his hands, fan of the author or not, without actually reading the blessed thing, or attempting to. And thus, I sat down with Contemplate one quiet night, and unleashed upon myself a book so horrendous as to make Wing-Borne look like Pulitzer material.

Frostic takes the same “nature > man” rhetoric that fills Wing-Borne here, but combines it with the rhetoric of the activist-nihilist as some sort of attempt to scare readers (and let's remember that she was always, almost certainly, preaching to the choir rather than getting the message out to the heathen), and overlays the whole mass of mediocrity with that Frostic love for dots, dashes, and other silly, incorrect punctuation. And you end up with something like this, though you won't get it quite the way it shows up in the book (the indents will be stripped, as they always are with Amazon, and of course I can't duplicate the godawful font):

“There were some -

so concerned with human rights – and needs -
they failed to understand that the fulfillment
of human needs was dependent upon a
wholesome environment for all life
upon this earth . . .

—and so — —
man went on developing things - - -
creating ways to master the universe . . .”

need I go on? And have you ever read a more un-poetic line in something purporting to be poetry than “they failed to understand that the fulfillment”? (We won't even go into the idea that any poet worth a sniff would never consider ending a line of poetry with an article, other than to gawk at it in wonder.) As is often the case with this sort of tripe, it's not poetry by any stretch of the imagination; it's simply political screed chopped up into little lines to make it look like poetry, as so much horrible amateur work (and not a little horrible professional work) is.

This is such a terrible book I briefly considered burning it, rather than sending it off to HPB and letting some poor, unready soul happen upon it and be forever scarred by the godawful non-verse therein. There are many days over the years I've regretted not doing the same with other books in the same category of “the worst crap I've ever laid eyes on”. But I am also of that even more peculiar strain of book geek who realizes that, while the only actually decent reason for censorship is the lack of literary merit of the book in question (and one wonders, idly, that more of the book-banning idiots in Kansas haven't changed their plan of attack to note that some of the books they want taken out of the schools quite simply suck, from the standpoint of construction, writing style, etc.), it's still censorship. Or maybe it's simply misery loving company. The fact that I have read Contemplate and Sue Doro's Heart, Home, and Hard Hats and Bill Bissett's scars on th seehors and Liz Waldner's Etym(bi)ology and Sean Yeedell's Dreams, Fantasies, Love, Reality, and all the other terrifying attempts at poetry that have passed my eyes over the years, makes me want to have someone else similarly scarred to commiserate with. (zero)

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Contemplate.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by CAG_1337 (new)

CAG_1337 I agree that this is not good poetry and is very tough to force oneself through. Good poetry is actually extremely rare in my opinion. I think that for most people who like Frostic's books, the appeal probably has more to do with her artwork and the crafting of the books with interesting papers and visual adornments than what is written on the page.

back to top