Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stabbed in Stanzas Book Review: "A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock" Edited by Christopher Conlon

A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock (2011)
Edited by Christopher Conlon

Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

A while back I reviewed Starkweather Dreams and Midnight on Mourn Street: A Play in Two Acts, both by Christopher Conlon. I became a fan of his work, feeling that Starkweather Dreams was worthy of a Bram Stoker Award. Therefore, I had high expectations for his poetry anthology, A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock, published by Dark Scribe Press. Sadly I was disappointed. This book is good, but not great.
This collection is filled with work by well-known writers to the point where the selling point seems to be based on their name recognition instead of outstanding poetic talent, since a large number of them are better known as novelists or short story authors. Most poems are not memorable. There are flashes of poetic talent, lost in a sea of birds or shower scenes.
More than one of the poems based on the film, The Birds, relies on repetition, such as Marge Simon’s “The Bird’s Lullaby” and Rich Ristow’s “Acceptance Speech”. This makes sense for a lullaby, but I certainly didn’t want to see anymore use of repetitions, especially for the same film reference. Andrew J. Wilson repeats the word, ‘corn’ over and over again in his poem “crop duster”.
The anthology seemed to be a celebration of just a few films, I guess to make the book more appealing to the average reader who might have only seen those Hitchcock movies. Instead this makes the book tiresome to read in one setting as the poems blend into each other to mask the talent of the contributors. If the reader hasn’t seen a film, the poem loses all meaning.
The standout poem is “Alfred” by G.O. Clark. This poem isn’t about a movie, but Hitchcock himself when he has cameos in his films. The work is simplistic, yet draws the reader in to make Hitchcock relatable.
A Sea of Alone is a must-have for any serious Alfred Hitchcock fan who knows all the films referenced in the anthology.

--Karen L. Newman