“The Human Condition” by Damion Hamilton (Review)

{ my rating: ★★★★ }

The Human Condition by Damion Hamilton is a collection of prose poetry inspired by the everyday thoughts and occurrences in Mr. Hamilton’s life, whether they be about the streets of the city or the confines of a warehouse job or just about a day off he spends inside contemplating the works of his own favorite writers. This is an independently published collection so it should be understood that the text will and does have typos, and (at least for the paperback edition) the formatting is off kilter, but when it comes to anything that resembles modern poetry, the heart of the work is what must carry the collection.

With that in mind, Mr. Hamilton’s work is simple when it comes to word and style choice, making his poetry accesible to an occasional reader, but it is also rich in spirit, which makes it a touching read to the everyday reader.

Positive Aspects:

The poems are modern and simple, meaning they’re prose poetry without the complicated style and word choice that makes classic poetry less accessible to the average person, but they do have important underlying themes if one cares to delve deeper. They also carry Mr. Hamilton’s natural voice, so each piece feels genuine if not fresh.

Without a tinge of pretense, I say I can remember the emotions I felt while I was reading the collection. This is no small feat for me because even my favorite poets like Angelo, R.M. Drake, and Emily Brontë don’t always strike a heartstring. Since poetry is not as descriptive as narrative works, there is risk alongside that as well that too little or too much ambiguity about the subject or point of the poem can make it become nothing but a string of bland words no matter how nice they sound together. Mr. Hamilton’s poems were so tuned in to his very real emotions and thoughts at the time of writing that most have been embedded with a beating heart—one that makes yours beat as well: in sympathy, in distress, in hope, with ache, which makes his work feel like more than words. 

Negative Aspects:

When it comes to the technical manuscript quality, I had a problem with the formatting. The paperback edition had no uniformity in where a poem started or ended, which ended up diminishing the impact of a fantastic poem. The frequent typos had the same effect, which wasn’t too big of a deal but their presence made it difficult for the collection to maintain its magic.

Like any collection, there are weaker poems in comparison to the majority, but the main problem I had with them was because they were rehashed versions of a stronger poem in the same collection. When you read about a similar idea that is written quite the same, it wears on the overall value of the collection. Had the book been a pamphlet of what Mr. Hamilton knew were his absolute best ones, I am positive it would have earned him five stars.

Conclusion:

Overall, I do recommend Mr. Hamilton’s collection to everyone. If you’re new or want to get into reading more poetry, then this is a great book to begin with. Just be willing to look past the design and let the poetry sink in.

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