It’s more than uncommon to see poets who are only 26-years-old as decorated as James Giddings. His poetry has appeared in Ambit, The Poetry Review, Magma and iOTA, to name a few, and he has won a Northern Writers Award. After reading Everything is Scripted it becomes obvious as to why his poetry has been widely published.
The collection opens with The Last of the Handshakers, an entertaining and strange poem that feels like a random thought that has been delicately brought together. The style, (but not necessarily the subject), of this first poem is continued throughout the collection. Everything is Scripted has multiple themes, but many of the poems explore familial and intimate relationships. In particular the relationship Giddings has with his father, or rather how he views his father within fictional settings through a poetic lens. This leads to enjoyable reading, such as in the poem My Dad the Amateur Detective, which is about what the title implies and is a sharp poem with slick stanzas showing why the detective’s son looks up to him. God’s Gift is a poem that describes God as a lonely being who desires human experiences, and despite it being short it is one of the most memorable pieces. The collection also brings laughter through black humour. Some Reasons for Divorce is one of those poems and one of the most entertaining in the collection, while War, In a Theatre Near You is a poem with several layers. It can be read as a critique of the indifference people have to the death of soldiers and how the war experience is jovially used to create entertainment, or as a statement that says entertainment is just that and shouldn’t be confused with something more. Poems such as Butcher and Killing You Off on Public Transport are moments where Giddings takes the strange and slightly absurd and applies something meaningful underneath to create a thought-provoking read.
Credit should be given to Templar Poetry for the physical design of the collection as well. It compliments it in the best way, and this attention to style even seeps through the writing. Giddings’ poetry has a good relationship with the written word and each one reads as if the writer has taken care in selecting every word.
If there Is anything that’s often said about poetry, it’s how it can be flowery and not make sense or have a clear meaning. This cannot be said for the poetry in Everything is Scripted. James Giddings’ writing isn’t obscure or cryptic, but there are layers to his poetry that still give it depth. Although, peeling back these layers is not what might bring readers back to Everything is Scripted after finishing it; it is a collection that will be re-read simply because it is enjoyable to read.
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