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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
I usually avoid reviewing books of poetry for one simple reason: these are the hardest books to review. But after I read the poem excerpt Michael Pedretti used in his description of the Dog and I, a short collection of 27 of his poems, I knew I had to read all the rest. How loudly he spoke to me when he wrote: "I’m holding on really tight/An avalanche gives no warning/Nor does a sinkhole." The truth, the relevance of those three lines to my own life and, no doubt, to millions of others, was as immediate as the recent Surfside condo collapse or the 2004 Tsunami. What else would Pedretti share with me? It turns out what he shares in surface simple words and short phrases are loaded with implications and deep meanings. These are his perceptions on life…its often missed opportunities for love.
Pedretti reflects on how we rush about our lives doing what we feel is important, like shopping at Walmart for the latest must-haves or painting a cottage instead of enjoying the wind and waves near the beach. He immortalizes the homeless welfare mama scorned and pre-judged by luckier others. Then there’s the poem about his brother in Vietnam: his brother mentions an argument centered on whether to use a round or rectangular table during the peace talks. Like, how much sense does that make to "the men/ducking lead/over there?"
Pedretti is a master of poignant juxtaposition that demands you stop and think before reading on. Short, well-chosen words that say so much. Nowadays, minimalism is very much in vogue. It permeates Pedretti’s poems, and this minimalism makes his poems so powerful. Every word, every phrase, every poem counts. Each line packs an unforgettable punch. I absolutely loved this collection. It reminds me of what first attracted me to this type of short blank verse poetry back in the 1960s, the kind I often tried to write myself, several of which are sadly buried in a moldy-smelling box in my basement. By the way, why is this collection titled the Dog and I? Read it and find out. Seems Pedretti, the Dog and I have something in common when it comes to putting a book of poems together.