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The Magician of Wrigley Street: A Book Review
Author: Craig A. Hart
2013, Sweatshoppe Publications
Readability/entertainment value: 19/20
Educational value: 6/10
The Next Billy Collins?
Maybe poetry can be simple. Maybe it can use words that everyone uses. Words that don’t require a thesaurus. Perhaps the reason most poets starve to death is because they try just a little bit too hard.
Poetry does not have to be this big, scary, indecipherable thing. It doesn’t have to be Whitman, or Ginsberg, or even Frost. Nope. It can be US Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Americans love Billy. Why? Because he takes the mundane, the simple, the relatable, and introduces them to us in a new and interesting way. He is not typically verbose or grandiose. He is simple, plain, accessible. That’s why we love him. There is no pretense.
And that’s why “The Magician of Wrigley Street”, a collection of poems from Craig A. Hart published all the way back in 2013, is so wonderful. Mr. Hart takes things as simple as singing in the shower, random encounters, the loss of virginity, and even sandwiches to whole new levels. These poems are simple, yet have a depth, sincerity and exquisiteness to them that makes them accessible to the every man. More than that, even those who are not fans of poetry will be able to relate to the simple concepts and simple language.
One of the more endearing qualities in Hart’s poetry is the self-deprecation. Like Mr. Collins, Hart pokes fun at himself, at human nature, at conventional wisdom, at the common cold, at the weather, and even at poetry itself. This is serious poetry that does not take itself too seriously.
But, don’t mistake this lightheartedness, the fun read, and the simple language for being callow, obtuse, vapid, or any other manner of fancy words to describe shallowness and lack of meaning. Don’t take it to mean that these poems are not thoughtful or well written. Beneath the simple words are layers of meaning, complex ideas and important messages. Hart’s poetry holds within it a germ of depth, an understated girth of importance, a love of words, and rapacious pontifications.
But, all that aside, the words I’m using to describe the work, are more obscure than the words found in of any poems you will find within the work. The poetry is fun to read, insightful, and easy to understand. Like many collections, you can pick it up and read a poem or two, to be considered in part, or read from cover to cover (a compact seventy pages) and consider the entirety of the work.
In the four years since this collection was publication, Craig A. Hart has gone on to show himself to be a prolific writer, from suspense to general fiction. Like all poets should and like all good poets do, Hart has a love for words and language and it shines in this little collection. It may not be breaking any new ground, but I don’t think it is trying too. It’s simply a fun and enjoyable read with plenty of clever turns of phrase and, like the shelf of a lake, an unexpected depth.
Besides, what’s the point of writing good poetry if no one reads it?