I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Traveler’s Vade Mecum edited by Helen Klein Ross. Therefore, the version I read is just a proof and not the final version, so I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
This collection of poetry has an excellent concept: each poem is titled after a line in the original Traveler’s Vade Mecum, which was a book intended to enable telegrams to be sent more easily and cheaply. Each poem is written by a different writer, interpreting the titles in their own way.
With so many writers contributing to this book, it follows that the tones and subject matter vary. However, with the prompts all stemming from the same source, they are united even as they are disparate. And while I found some poems to be more interesting and accessible than others, this was still a diverting enough volume (and that’s coming from someone who does not often read poetry).
Some of my favorite poems were “My Wife Unites With Me In Kind Regards” by Chip Brown; “I Have a Vivid Recollection of It” by Jimmy Roberts; “Have You Accomplished Your Object?” by Gregg Friedberg; and “The Journey Was Not as Pleasant as Anticipated” by Megin Jiménez. However, the others are worth reading, especially if you’re a fan of poetry.
In the end, I’m glad I read this collection. I’m trying to read more of a variety of things, and this is a great anthology with diverse voices and styles, tackling a creative, innovative concept. It’s not poetry about traveling, but rather poetry born from a book about traveling. And that, I think, makes this interesting and sets it apart from other poetry collections.
Overall rating: 8/10