Review by Gail Denham in Highland Park Poetry, August 1, 2021

What’s missing in The Purpose of Things, a book of poems and photographs? Flowery language, excessive metaphors, and hyperbole. For that, I give thanks.

For me, this is the best poetry book I’ve read in a long time. It’s simple, down to earth, creative and fun. Not just fun, but also full of meaningful comparisons, and statements.

The book is the brain child of author Peter Serchuk. This author has collaborated with the unusual photos presented by Pieter de Koninck, unusual photos that somehow end up fitting the poem.

Whether this was planned or simply happened, I cannot say. However, I know that the poems work well with the photographs. As I read, I am led to unusual connections that come together as you read the poems and view the photos.

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? It matters not. These combinations of poems and photos broaden the understanding of each. I’m definitely in love with this style book.

The book’s theme and title is “The Purpose of Things” Illuminating the Ordinary. This has always been important in my writing career, whether in story, essay, or poetry. “Write the real,” I counsel attendees at writing workshops. “Do not be afraid to talk about a shoelace, what lives under the bed, the kitchen sink, or even a flat tire. Listen in to conversations in restaurants or other public places. Take notes, collect unusual words and record images in your mind. Everything counts. Your observations carry weight, and further – could encourage or influence the readers of your work. Write the real.

In “The Purpose of Things”, I would point out a few lines that spoke to me. For example: beside a photo of rather worn shoes, Serchuk writes: “The purpose of Shoes is “The chauffeur always waiting when…you wear your welcome thin.”  Trees: “A coat rack for the fog   To shadow every field.”  Maps: “To praise the names of dying towns   whose dot the world forgets.”

A photo of weeds growing through a fence:  Serchuk writes, “To shame the greenest thumb. To praise what won’t be tamed.”  A pair of glasses sitting on a  book compliments Serchuk’s words: “To hack your way through fog to find   a cabin in the woods.”

So much un-spoken wisdom comes through the lines of Serchuk’s poems. A photo of water surging over soap goes with: “To learn how quickly anything   can slip right through your hands.” I must end, else I quote the whole book. “The purpose of Faith”: A close up of candles in a sanctuary accents Sherchuk’s “To point your compass north before the dealers call your bet.” The Purpose Of Things has only 79 pages. It’s a book to keep nearby to read again and again. Plus purchase copies for fellow poets. Thanks to the author and the photographer as well.

— ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Gail Denham says, “Writing keeps me sane at times – Have had stories, essays, poems, and newspaper articles, plus many photos published in magazines, newspapers, books, over the last 45 years.”

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