The Virgin Journals by Travis Laurence Naught

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.

Poet Travis Laurence Naught

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.


  1. I think I could appreciate this collection and his honest emotions!

  2. Thanks for the heads-up about this poet!

  3. Glad that the author has found an outlet in poetry. Great review!

  4. Congratulations on your honesty and courage. You are revealing a private world that most people cannot even imagine. You are a spokes poet and writer for people who are in your situation who have not been gifted with using words to express how they feel. Thank you.

  5. This sounds very intense. Something that would be best consumed in small chunks.

  6. Bookworm says

    This does sound like a powerful collection. I like the excerpt you posted from Big Mouth.

  7. I really admire someone who is brave enough to expose themselves on the printed page like that. This sounds like a powerful collection of poems.

  8. Allow me to be the first to commend you on a truly perfect review of my work! I was very excited to get out all of this ” poetry ” so I could start fine-tuning my more recent work and truly set out to be a poet. The raw nature that I present was necessary for me for a number of reasons and my writing since The Virgin Journals has been published is looking a little more traditional. Not much though! Don’t want to polish down all of my edges.