Imagine a life in which everything is viewed from a wheelchair or from the arms of someone moving you from the bed to the chair and back again. The Virgin Journals by Travis Laurence Naught is that story and more. Naught was diagnosed as an infant with incurable spinal muscular atrophy, and his poems and prose speak with a frankness that is not only raw but unsettling. Do we want to truly know what he’s thinking as he sits in his wheelchair and cannot decide to go to war as a soldier or to even have a choice about what he does physically? His collection reads much like the confessional poets of Sexton and Plath with its brash ambition to tell it like it is without sugar coating, but in many ways it is not as sophisticated in that there are no mysterious images to unravel. He puts it all out there without pretense and the poems read more like journal entries.
From "All You Need is Touch" (Page 75): Feeling like a pain in the ass Is no fun for anyone But I get by every day By needing Basic life functions
From "Big Mouth" (Page 50): Do not treat me with distrust For I have not lied Only told the truth too much
The collection is broken into three sections: Life, Love, and World. It is likely to make readers uncomfortable in that the narrator of these poems is constantly frustrated, deprived of human touch/contact, and full of lust. To truly understand the plight of someone stuck in a wheelchair, these poems can do just that, but the poems appear to be prose broken up into lines and stanzas arbitrarily. Moreover, there are more poems here that read like stream of consciousness prose and late-night confessions that normally would not see the outside of a drawer. They are raw and unflinching.
Some poems are more typically poetic than others, but it is clear that writing is an outlet for Naught as he struggles daily with his lack of physical freedom and desire for more out of life. From “Lack of Physicality” to “Movie in Mind,” Naught’s poetic talents shine as he weaves in images to display how we are all human and struggle with our own limitations. These are the gems of the collection. Readers may want to dip into the collection over a period of time rather than read it from beginning to end so that they can take in the heavy emotions put forth by the narrator. The Virgin Journals by Travis Laurence Naught is a good debut from a writer who clearly has more to say and more to explore in terms of poetry and prose.
About the Poet:
Travis Laurence Naught is poetry/prose writer … college graduate … former Division 1 college men’s basketball assistant … quadriplegic wheelchair user. Join him on Facebook and on Twitter.
***For today’s National Poetry Month blog tour stop, go to the bookworm.***
This is the 5th book for my 2012 Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.
This is my 24th book for the 2012 New Authors Challenge.