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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
A Beginner's Guide to Lycanthropy by Sam Caton is a raw, unique dive into poetry with a decidedly psychological twist. The poet relays experiences with psychotic episodes that describe mental processes, moods, and situations, but uses the language of werewolves, or lycanthropy, to explain and express it. This is a clever and perhaps cathartic way for Caton to exorcise the tumultuous mental states experienced. Beginning with the prelude, you at once feel a poetic journey coming on, a powerful one at that, and this expectation doesn't disappoint. The use of language in this poetry provokes the senses, and you realize just how impactful imagery and words can be when composed the way Caton composes them.
If you like poetry that goes deep into the psyche to explore and reflect human behavior and psychoses, then this collection will have you riveted. Few poets can verbalize what goes on in a mind tortured by mental illness, so these poems can act to educate as well as move the reader. Caton talks about feeling conflicted, like the werewolf, and the phrasing is elegant and full of meaning. Four sections are covered: Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, and The Forgiven Insanity. Though at first it may seem that psychosis has nothing to do with lycanthropy, as you read, you will see and feel what the poet is trying to convey. In a way, I think this set of poems works on the level of a good memoir, as far as the telling of personal experiences. Caton pulls you into a world of pain, desire, truth, and the duality of human nature. For a poetic ride that will stay with you for a long time, immerse yourself in A Beginner's Guide to Lycanthropy by Sam Caton.