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Content Warning: Suicide.

Poetry is tasked with the responsibility of addressing heavy thoughts and feelings. Many works today carry the weight of these emotions, but few that I have read encompass the mass of enduring tough loss like Nolle has done in Black Wick: Selected Elegies. Utilizing heavy subject matter, vivid descriptions of the experience of losing a child and what it’s like to live through that are expressed. This collection of poems carries inquiries many of us hope never to know, but some of us who have, seek sorely to truly discuss.

While containing many poignant pieces and an encapsulation of (well described) difficult situations, I do not believe that a “review” of this work is suited. I respect this collection in ways I cannot describe, however, the vivid depiction of triggering content must be addressed. My personal experience reading this was paired by the accompaniment through a very heavy grieving process. I spoke with the author (whom was beyond pleasant in interaction) to further understand the body of work, and this reply resonates with me:

“I’m not sure exactly how Patrick would want to be remembered, but I do know what he was: incisive, witty, unsentimental, sometimes sardonic, fiercely intelligent, compassionate, often exasperating, highly philosophical and literary, intensely curious and sensitive about all experience. It goes without saying that not the least of my sorrow is what he would have gone on to do and become if he could have had the gift of more time. I want the book to be understood as my tribute to him”

I truly sought to understand the muse of this work. Many of these poems leave the reader questioning (along with the writer [from my understanding of the work]): How could this happen? What did I miss, and how did I miss it? Both reading and my discussion of this book left me feeling inconclusive. Mistake not my words, I love this collection in ways unique to anything I have ever read. I actively still hope to one day understand whom inspired these questions, because this collection makes me yearn for answers. I do want to make an extremely poignant note after reading a piece like Spring Break: while Patrick’s procession may not have produced lines of cars and casseroles, it did bring tears to the eyes of a man, few would think of. His story evolved into a book lined with beautiful poetry and led to words that I hope he would be proud he inspired. From what I understand, he’d respect that, or at least, I genuinely hope he would’ve.

Purchase your copy of Black Wick: Selected Elegies here.

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