Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite
Parrots, Red Wine & Coffee by Black Hamlet takes its title from the vibrant cover art featuring--you guessed it--a parrot rendered in oil with broad strokes on a canvas specially prepared with red wine and coffee before being painted upon. Black Hamlet’s oil on canvas and digital design artwork punctuates this nimble, honest-even-if-it-hurts collection -- his thirteenth -- of confessional, progressive, and socially conscious form poems and free verse. Black Hamlet’s poetry is visceral, laser-precise, and not at all afraid to challenge readers -- he is equal parts philosopher and pugilist, frequently juxtaposing lush romanticism with brutal imagery. From “You Slide across my Skin”: You drop in unannounced -/I bear the scars/a fractured song your diamond heart skips over.
The best poetry brings images to readers’ minds; on this level particularly, Black Hamlet’s Parrots, Red Wine & Coffee succeeds brilliantly. The entire volume crackles with electric visuals dangling like so many ripe berries ready for picking. Black Hamlet is a poet’s poet -- brave, visionary, able to choose just the right words for every metaphor, achingly vulnerable when occasion warrants, willing to risk all for the sake of a genuine connection with readers, and sufficiently self-aware and self-deprecating to foil even the most acerbic critics. From “For the Bukowskis”: Never trust a poet/we are competent/dissatisfied human beings.”
Black Hamlet’s Parrots, Red Wine & Coffee has something for everyone. Traditionalists will find references to Yeats and Byron, modern sonnets, and a hefty selection of rhymed verse, while those with more contemporary tastes will find fluid and edgy free verse for every occasion. It is a true pleasure to read the work of a poet equally at home in both traditional and contemporary styles. Parrots, Red Wine & Coffee by Black Hamlet is a thoroughly engaging collection. Here’s to lucky # 13!