Title: The Years
By: Tom Duddy
Publisher: Happenstance Press
Released: January 2014
As a posthumous book of poetry, there is a lot of life packed into ‘The Years’. It is certainly comforting to see how Tom Duddy’s words continue to sparkle even after his sad death.
Duddy’s poetry is filled with references to wisdom through life experiences, as well as evident prolific reading. He turns a keen analytic eye to both areas, so that his poetry reads like rhythmic philosophy. He also continually suggests that poetry is the primary purpose of his life- whether reading it or writing it. In ‘Blue Chalk’, Duddy discusses education and how learning to read was vital to his development as a person, and as a poet because: “poems learned by heart/ would teach us to love, one day”. He does later express some transient doubts about the usefullness of art; but the quote from ‘Blue Chalk’ still sums up the overall message of the collection: that poetry is a reflection of life. Poems can teach us about life, and life can teach us about poems.
Duddy also sees the importance of leaving a space for the reader’s imagination within literature: “on the empty-no-crowded space between chapter and chapter, between/ the end of one page and the start of another.”
As a whole ‘The Years’ is a collection that resonates with stories from all of the crevices of Duddy’s life. A selection of the poems also show the shadow cast by their writer’s impending death; yet this only allows the collection to go further- using both light and dark elements, allows for a sharper contrast between the poems.