2 out of 4 stars
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Phil's First Time by Philip Beggs is a book of poetry. All of the poems are religious and talk about God and Jesus.
In the second poem of this book, Philip Beggs states, “God’s truth lives in me.” I feel this line perfectly surmises this entire collection. Though some of these poems seem to have different themes, they ultimately all relate to religion and God. For example, the above-mentioned quote comes from a poem that starts, “Wonderland is where we’re going to.” One might think that this beginning would lead us down a rabbit hole of whimsy. Instead, it transitions by the sixth line (out of twenty-four) to say “It comes from my God, my father.”
None of the poems in this book have titles. They all have the same structure of ABAB rhyming. Since they aren’t written using any meter, they occasionally are hard to read in the flowing matter most associate with poetry. Most punctuation is omitted throughout this book, but when it appears it holds more significance.
There are three poems that stand out as my favorites. The first is at location 181 and starts with, “He stills the waters.” This poem starts with shorter lines that set a lighter tone. “Baby Jesus was a cutie,” is an especially jovial line. The second poem is at location 209 and starts with, “A long time ago the story did start.” This one has more metaphors and imagery than most of the others. It revisits “holy fire” a few different times, which helps to round out this particular collection of lines. The third poem I enjoy is at location 336 and starts with, “I know there’s a love deep inside you.” While this one does mention God, it’s mostly about his love of a particular woman. It’s a touching display of affection with lines like, “I see the colours of a rainbow in your eyes,” and “You’re the perfect sunset to me.”
Unfortunately, this book lacks substance. While I’m a strong believer in God, this collection was an overwhelming display of the God-is-good variety without any mention of why. I would have liked to see more biblical references or mentions of particular experiences. This seems like a great way for Beggs to show his devotion to God, but there isn’t much for the reader to take away from these poems.
My least favorite aspect of this book is the cover. The title does not tell the reader anything about what to expect. In fact, nothing on the Amazon page suggests that this book is religious at all. The back cover of the paperback version simply says, “Phil’s First Time is a book of poems.” While I have no problem with Beggs using a portrait for the cover, I didn’t feel the tattered and worn shirt set the right tone for this collection.
Being a book of poetry, it’s hard to determine which mistakes in the text are intentional and which are not. That being said, I believe there were only three editorial mistakes throughout, showing me that a lot of care went into proofreading this work. I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. While there were a few poems I enjoyed, I didn’t care for the overall collection. With a bit more variety in the poems, it might have caught more of my attention. There are very few people I would recommend this to, though friends and family of Philip Beggs would probably enjoy it.
Phil's First Time
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