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“The Drum that Beats Within Us”: a review of Mike Bond’s eco-critical poetry collection

Kindle eReader showing the cover of the poetry collection “The Drum that Beats Within Us” by Mike Bond.

Mike Bond’s eco-critical poetry collection The Drum that Beats Within Us is a collection of poetry that asks us to look at our environment through the eyes of animals and also asks us to take a close look at our relationship with nature and the city. Furthermore, Bond critiques the state of poetic production and study by challenging the academic ivory tower that complicates and miscommunicates the poetry today.

In the opening of his collection, Bond challenges that poetry is no longer read by the masses. This is something that also resonates with me as a reader and lover poetry. In recent times, contemporary poets like Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace have had a moment in the spotlight, however, in general poetry goes unread, according to Bond, because of poetry professionals “contempt for the wisdom of their audience.” Bond goes further to state that poetry’s “meanings become indecipherable” due to their over analysis in academia. But poetry, as Bond rightfully points out “is a window into ourselves, standing before a mirror to see who we are.” And this is what his latest collection of poetry tries to be.

In many ways, Bonds poetry is a combination of the city and natural pastoral with many poems talking about our connection or lack there of with the land. It is both an exploration of self and nature that critiques and celebrates the ways in which we interact with nature. Poems like “Hungry Magpie” hint at climate change destruction whilst others, like “Every Where” and “Harbour”, question life and existence.

“Crow” is a poem that paints a picture of our world through the eyes of a bird. The crow observes

“the battered earth,

houses sterile

as stones.”

Many of Bonds poems as for a re-connection with ourselves, other humans, and the nature around us.

“The most evil

is to call one

the other.”

(from “Most Evil Thing”)

In this poem, Bond asks for us to be kinder to one another and playing on the idea that no one should be considered and outsider, or other. Similarly, in his poem “To the Poets Among Us” Bond asks that we watch the animals and “respect the grace with which/ they execute their knowledge.”

Bond’s poetry is easy and pleasurable to read. His poetic style oscillates between free form and more rhythmic traditional rhyming styles. I also wondered, on a bit of a side note, if his poem “Where the Flea Once Bit” was a small homage to the famous poet John Donne’s work, “The Flea”. To summarise this poetry collection I would say that Bond asks us to look at the poetry that is all around us and the poetry that has been with us since the dawn of time. His poems are comforting, challenging, and thought provoking.

Welcome to 2019 and the first of many more reviews. Who is your favourite poet? Or more importantly, what poetry books do you have on your to-read-list? As always, share the reading love.

NOTE: this collection of poetry was sent to me through Netgalley thanks to Big City Press for review purposes.