by Micah Pawluk
While Pawluk covers a range of topics in his debut poetry collection, A Boy from the Woods, the vast majority of the book concerns his thoughts on love. The author often groups poems with similar ideas and themes together, occasionally growing and building off of the previous ones in a narrative fashion, coming together to tell his story of love and loss.
In the telling, Pawluk is able to hit on evocative phrases and descriptive imagery, but these qualities prove elusive to the author, something he touches on in a number of poems, this difficulty of expression. While this gives the collection the rough edge hinted at in the blurb on the back, I hoped for something more akin to a raw passion. This isn’t to say that Pawluk lacks passion, but I get a sense of almost a fear holding him back, a hesitancy to deeply explore uncomfortable aspects of him and his relationships. Maybe that just wasn’t the author’s intention, and maybe this just wasn’t that type of collection, but doing so would lend his poetry credence, honesty, a quality that could elevate it to something great.
That Pawluk approaches his poetry with passion, however, is important. For, despite any flaws A Boy from the Woods may have, a poet who cares deeply about his art will just keep getting better and better.