The Fight for Life


Poetry - Inspirational
386 Pages
Reviewed on 01/24/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a volume of powerful poetry that moves and inspires. This award-winning author presents slice-of-life poems on a variety of subjects that go deep and wide, and that almost anyone can relate to in one way or another, or learn from. Most of all, you will be inspired by his journey from a twelve-year-old boy who was abused by a scout leader, to a young married man, to a college student, to a Vietnam veteran who began to hate himself after coming home from the war--which was understandable, since a lot of Americans hated returning soldiers too. This self-loathing isn't unique to veterans. Many experience regret, guilt, depression, PTSD, and mixed feelings. But Elliott's drove him to suicidal thoughts. Some of the poems are simple observations, and not all are about war. Some are about peace and forgiveness, while others are on the unique characteristics of animals, and commentary on nature. My favorites are about his emotions and experiences--deeply spiritual and touching. The ones about romance are nice, and you'll even find some humorous lines as well. Images punctuate the poems, though I think the poems stand fine on their own without them.

What I like about this volume of poetry is that it does more than just entertain. Any veteran or veteran's family reading it can take something away from it. Even if you aren't a veteran, these poems can help you understand what some veterans go through, regardless of which war it is. It may help some become less judgmental of soldiers. Some fights are external, some are internal, some are both. Elliot does a beautiful job showing you his life and what transpired through the years. And the recovery themes don't stop with veterans. The author also discusses his experience as a childhood sexual abuse survivor, and this too can help readers who still carry shame or confusion. To write a big chunk of your life in poems is an impressive task, and this author has accomplished it and then some. The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a work of poetry that you can linger over and return to time and again.

Asher Syed

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a compilation of the author's poetry, the book's name having been derived from Elliott's deep depression as a Vietnam war veteran and the ensuing suicide attempts, followed by what he describes as God's fight to save his life. This is also detailed in the book's titular poem under its own chapter heading. Elliott, a prolific poet, offers up over two hundred original pieces of work. These range in length, tone, tenor, and in the depth of their subject matter from poems like The Deer, about the beauty of an animal in its natural habitat, to My Family, an ode to his siblings and wife who rallied around Elliott through his most troubling times, and on to pieces like Jail, wherein Elliot shares a rhythmic tale about his sixty-day incarceration and the friendship forged between steel bars.

The Fight for Life took me a bit longer than most books of poetry do, given the sheer volume of William T. Elliott's work and the depth and complexity of his most poignant poems. I'm not sure I've ever read so many on such a wide range of different topics, and for this reason, I found myself setting it aside and having to come back—which is a good thing. Elliott stands out in that his poems all have a lyrical quality and all have their own structural meters, eschewing the trend of free verse and instead utilizing the classic format. The most heartbreaking, standout piece to me is Abuse, which details Elliott's unthinkable experience as a young boy who was sexually abused on a camping trip with the Boy Scouts of America, having been manipulated into a horrifying initiation by a Patrol Captain. There is a great deal of courage that Elliott had to dig deep to find in sharing these profoundly honest pieces and for his service, his sacrifice, his pain, and the love he has found through his family and God, I'd give him a whole bucket of gold stars if I could. Very highly recommended.

Grace Masso

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a collection of short poems that are well-written, entertaining, and, most often, soulful. The author captures in the lines featured in these poems his observations of life — and the poetic eye pierces through the mundane experiences and elements that readers encounter every day and lifts them to a place of beauty — experiences lived through childhood, reminiscences of the Vietnam experience, and a lot more. There is something very intimate about William T. Elliott’s poetry as he allows his emotions and thoughts to flow through the skillfully worded sentences.

The poems are very observant in nature, and the author evokes strong imagery, bringing to life elements of nature like the snowflakes, the moving brush, the smell in the air of the Missouri River, the feel of a kiss, the deer, and many others. The poems are delightful, covering a variety of themes — the experience of life after the Vietnam War, nature, love, sexual abuse, forgiveness, humanity, and society. This collection is a master’s work and I could feel that the author writes with confidence, creating free verses that are rhythmic and that have a stamp of their own. While the poems explore the personal experiences and thoughts of the author, the universal themes featured in the collection, and the appealing tone in which they are written make them enjoyable. The Fight for Life is inspiring and a well-crafted collection for fans of poetry. I loved the length of the poems, the author’s economy of words, and the familiar diction.

Lesley Jones

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is an eclectic collection of thought-provoking, funny and uplifting poetry. William shares his passion for the environment and wildlife with many poems relating to his observations of the world around him. His recollections of the relationships with his parents and wife are sometimes humorous and reflective and other times heartbreakingly sad. There are memories of childhood pranks and situations which will be appreciated by readers of all ages. Being a veteran of the Vietnam war, William recounts his time at war, the emotions he felt and the aftermath when he was rejected by a huge proportion of society. With photography from William's personal collection, beautiful landscapes and places of interest in South Dakota, the aura of the entire book will draw you into William's world as he shares his innermost thoughts and beliefs. Williams showcases the best and worse of humanity, society in general, and the relationships we form with one another.

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a brutally honest and heartfelt collection. The poems around his experiences in Vietnam were the most poignant for me; his words epitomize his every emotion and the love for his country so well. This was apparent especially in The Veteran, 'and does not argue of the cost to keep the land then free.' and The Fallen, 'inside these men and women, of iron and metal made, I see within a struggle still, to make the battles fade.' William's love for his wife is apparent although he does allow us an insight into her irritating habits which were hilarious. His poetry around animals and nature were quirky, descriptive and crammed with vivid descriptiveness that ignites every one of your senses. I loved The Paperclip - it was extremely funny and William's thoughts would definitely be shared by many.

The subject matter in this collection is vast from love, family dynamics and hope to recollections of childhood memories and loss. William pours his heart out onto the page and his use of the English language will warm the heart of any reader. His relationship with his father was terribly heartbreaking to read. I could feel the mixture of sadness and frustration over his tragic demise. He dedicates many poems to both his parents but I feel The Fool, regarding losing his father, was my favorite, 'and watched him take his final breath, to death the drink had led.' A fantastic collection of work.

Vincent Dublado

The Fight for Life is William T. Elliott’s collection of poems reflecting that he is one of those souls who find healing in the power of verse. Poetry represents an important part of Elliot’s colorful observations and experiences. These poems are divided into different topics ranging from his reflections of everyday life, his dealing with profound loss from the death of his wife, his Vietnam experience, and his candid revelation of sexual abuse. Most of his poems reflect his existential angst that is brought about by the hatred of a country to servicemen who answered the call of duty, and he initially responded by developing a hatred for himself as well. Through poetry, he has managed to channel that self-hatred into something creative and therapeutic. Coupled with a strong faith in a Higher Power, he dedicates this anthology on behalf of all Vietnam era veterans and to that twelve-year-old boy who fled through a dark lonely forest to escape sexual abuse.

The title of this anthology, The Fight for Life, describes God’s fight to keep Elliot from taking his own life after he had been released from a psychiatric ward. Most war veterans are scarred for life, and it takes its toll on their psychological well-being. This book, however, is not limited to his observations about his Vietnam experience but is about his life in general and his facility for verse. At the heart of his poems lie typically the evoking sensations of his profound relationship with creatures and things. I like The Cat that Sneezed where he writes about his cat that caught a cold. In a subtle way, you understand how a pet can profoundly affect your path toward healing. You can feel the variety of emotions that inhabit each of his poems, and reading this anthology will make you bear witness to Elliot’s creativity.

Christian Sia

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a collection of poems grouped into different themes and categories. Some are very personal and intimate, some are observant of the poet’s life and things happening to and around him, and some are reflections about life. Written by a Vietnam War hero, this collection features a voice that is consistent but that captures the different shades of the soul, exploring sentiments of self-loathing, the experience of war and its aftermath, the beauty of human communication, the power of faith and love, and many others. The author gives readers powerful glimpses into his life, even from the age of twelve being sexually molested and looking for help.

The poems are well-written, lyrical, and full of strong, captivating imagery. Readers will encounter a poet who discovers a way to deal with pain by embracing the spiritual path of forgiveness, cherishing genuine relationships, and maintaining a strong faith. There are poems that capture humorous moments and there are some that are downright melancholic. I enjoyed the way William T. Elliott writes small details into the poems, allowing readers to gaze into his soul and experience his loneliness, to feel his connection with nature as he listens to the sounds of the barking dogs, to perceive his spiritual depth as he shows appreciation for the nurses, described as “Angels from Heaven.” This is a rich collection of poetry featuring so many lines and stanzas that inspire faith and that will awaken readers to the consciousness of their own humanity. The Fight for Life is spiritually rich and captures the voice of a poet who refuses to give up on life.

Jose Cornelio

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is inspirational poetry in which the author shares some of the interesting, oftentimes challenging and disturbing episodes of his life, insights, and observations about life and relationships, and his faith in God and humanity. In a tone that is strong and personalized, the poet allows his experiences of being human to pour out in these poetic lines, including being a victim of sexual assault at the age of twelve, his experience of war, his relationship with his townsfolk, and a lot more. There are seasons the author captures in these poems, some dark, some festive, some filled with storms and periods of persecution, and some filled with meaningful, uplifting instances. The reader encounters a soul that has grown to adore nature and that can look back and recall details that merge the introspective gaze with the unfolding of nature’s beauty.

The Fight for Life contains beautiful poems and readers will easily relate to the emotions and human experiences the author describes. These poems also explore the poet’s relationship with God, and it is in this relationship that William T. Elliot gives context to his fight. Themes of God and religion, war, friendship, humanity, nature, and growing up are recurrent in these poems. William T. Elliott’s keen attention to these themes elevates the poetry to a universal level, giving it an appeal that will reach people of different cultures and tastes. The Fight for Life is a gorgeous collection of poems that will, most certainly, inspire any reader going through a difficult day to live that day with hope. It is beautiful and filled with strong imagery and insightful lines to unfold by.

Samantha Gregory

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a collection of poetry, written by a Vietnam veteran who shares his experiences and the effects the war had on him. He left home and met his future wife, Nancy, and began a new life. Suffering from depression, anxiety, and other issues stemming from childhood abuse, the author wrote the book after being hospitalized. I particularly enjoyed The Hawk and the Blackbird and Sleep. I like that the author could take everyday objects and occurrences and create a poem for them that is interesting to read and makes you look at them in a new light. I did also like the poem The Rain. There is a mix of poems on nature, life, and love, so I feel that there is something for everyone in this book. It is divided into sections so the reader can choose which ones they would prefer to read.

William T. Elliott has written a very raw and honest collection of poetry in The Fight for Life. The poems themselves are simple and easy to read, but they paint a vivid picture for the reader which really leaves an impact. I think they are well written and poetry lovers would enjoy them immensely. I think this book could do very well on the market. I always find it interesting to read poetry by authors who have really been through a lot, as they tend to view the world on a deeper level and their words can be very powerful. I would definitely recommend The Fight for Life.

Divine Zape

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a collection of poems that features a wide range of themes: personal growth, war and trauma, patriotism, faith and hope, friendship, love, self-worth, animals, nature, sexual abuse, and many more. The poems are well composed with rhythms that are fast; the imagery is fascinating as well. The author explores communion with nature, writing about the forest, the snowflake, the river, and it is interesting to feel the connection he shares with the elements of nature. Images from his childhood, from the Vietnam War, and his relationships with people around him, including his wife, are well-crafted in these poems.

This collection is personalized and William T. Elliott uses the pronoun “I” to establish his direct connection with people and things, giving the poems an intimate character that pulled me in and had me engaged. Even when talking about nature or animals, there is a tenderness in the voice that grabs the reader and inspires them. The Fight for Life can be read as the voice of a warrior, of someone who defies the odds and sees hope in embracing the small blessings that punctuate life. These are poems that inspire hope in readers and remind them of the beauty of their humanity. The poet captures emotions and thoughts in a succinct manner, keeping the lines evocative and not missing the sounds that will echo in the souls of readers. This collection is a treat that fans of poetry will enjoy, most certainly.

Rabia Tanveer

The Fight for Life by William T. Elliott is a collection of poems that reflect the author’s experiences as a Vietnam war veteran and how his life changed after surviving the war. This extensive collection beautifully encapsulates the author’s life afterward and how everyone treated a war veteran. From talking about his experiences of the war to talking about life as a civilian, the author holds nothing back in sharing his experiences in vivid detail in each of his poems. The collection contains simple poems like “A Beagle” that sets the tone for the collection; “The Snowflake” is a sensory gift that transports the reader to a field of snow, and sweet, gentle poems like “How to Get Along with a Woman.” The author opens his heart and shares his emotions with readers in his heart-touching poetry.

The Fight for Life is a collection that anyone who enjoys meaningful poetry will love. Once the first batch of poems ends with “The Hawk and The Blackbird,” William T. Elliott delves into deeper topics such as his mental health, going back home, and surviving and feeling isolated in his hometown. Throughout the collection, the author maintains a soothing tone with his words, even when he talks about past trauma and traumatic events in his life. That makes the collection readable and enjoyable to me. The way he describes his surroundings and his feelings makes everything so vivid. You can feel what he feels and see what he wants you to see with his words. It is a powerful, cohesive, and entertaining poetry collection that you will want to share with others.