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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
The Forgotten World is a collection of poetry penned by Nick Courtright. “In the end it’s all ephemera/ Consciousness is neither harmed nor improved by what it knows.” We live in a world full of duplicities and a driving need to have the biggest, the best, the most sophisticated of anything and everything. We want to explore the world to claim we are citizens of it but are we truly so? Do we accept and believe in all that others accept and believe in? Are we really as open-minded as we claim? Do we merely belong to one nationality, so labeled due to our place of birth or place of permanent residency? Or, can we claim to belong to the broader vision of an international, global community? These are difficult thoughts to pursue in an era when all is at a standstill and we are both hesitant and restricted in venturing beyond our local bubble.
Nick Courtright’s chapbook The Forgotten World is a powerful look at the international community, at the world as a whole, not a cut-up tapestry of fragmented nations. His poems are a journey of deep reflection and self-awareness, a journey through a quagmire that has locked the world down for over a year. The poet is on an intense learning curve, as we all should be, looking back, living the present, and moving forward with care. “The more I learn what I am not/ the more I learn what I am. The more I learn what I am/ the more I learn what I can never be. /… At the end of life will I feel I did enough?” The poet digs deep into his roots to share his thoughts and challenge his readers to examine their own life. With a powerful control of the English language, Courtright expounds on where this troubled world is in the present, where it has been, and where it might go in the future.
He exhibits his sense of place in a world where everyone might appear to be close to one another (in spirit, if not in person), but, in reality, we are divided by seemingly insurmountable chasms of space, time, beliefs, in a world that has gone mad with the raging pandemic on everyone’s doorstep. He explores such diverse topics as religion and art, mental health and world economy, colonialism, whiteness, and what it means to be our own distinct selves. Some of his poems read like a travelogue, but the journey is more than physical. It’s a journey of the mind and the spirit, to find the answers we all want to ask, but sometimes dare not. The Forgotten World is definitely a collection of poems to be studied repeatedly.