March 21st, 2008

Review by Allen Taylor

by Glenn Cooper & Michael Estabrook


Liquid Paper Press
c/o Nerve Cowboy
P.O. Box 4973
Austin, Texas 78765
48 pp., $6.00

The cover of Methinks I See My Father set me up with high expectations. The chapbook looks like it might shed new light on an old subject. Unfortunately, it is a terrible let down.

The title is taken from Hamlet, Act I, Scene II, when the protagonist says to his friend Horatio, "My father, methinks I see my father." Of course, we know the father has died and what Hamlet really sees is his father's ghost. These poems by Glenn Cooper and Michael Estabrook have great potential but fail to deliver on their promise.

It is evident that both poets have lost fathers at an early age. The poems hinge around the central idea of sons trying to get back in touch with those fathers through the craft of poetry. Indubitably, they have seized upon a worthy idea. Both poets have notable publishing credits, which indicates that there are readers who appreciate their efforts. Alas, I'm not one of them.

Cooper's twenty poems make up the first half of the book, but I found that they lack the proper depth the book's title implies and I found myself hurrying through them due to an over-triteness in expression. Further, several of the titles seemed to miss opportunities and I wanted to break all the workshop rules and rewrite them.

By the time I finished Cooper's poetry I was looking forward reading Estabrook, hoping that he would redeem the day, but I was disappointed again.

Though Estabrook does have the best poem in the book--Pantywaists, as a title, makes me want to read and the first few lines grabbed my attention right away:

Dad would call
the mechanics of today pantywaists,

The poem offers a glimpse into the mind of a man that I can see, unlike many of the other poems in the book, which only "tell" me about the poets' fathers rather than show me those fathers in all their raw glory. Pantywaist does meet my expectations, though I thought a couple of the lines could have been more succinct and one could have been removed with no great loss.

While Methinks I See My Father, subtitled "Poems About Our Fathers," makes big promises, I can't help but think that only a few sentimental readers will really enjoy it.



Allen Taylor writes the daily and is webmaster of He has self-published two chapbooks and is currently revising a volume poems he wrote while stationed in Iraq in 2005 with his National Guard unit.


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