US BOOK REVIEW:
“Now I think what comes next Is dancing on the spot, sleeping in, watching films and eating a lot”
An impressive and vast collection of poems covering a large range of work both in subject matter and style, McNaughton’s poetry compilation delves into many areas of life, love, and friendship, showcasing the young poet’s craft through various peoples’ “feelings, images, and ideas” (or, as he puts it, “imaginings”). In these roughly 360 pages, readers can find poetic pieces on waking from a powerful dream, the desire to cuddle, happy-go-lucky love notes, and celebrating the frosting as the “best bit” of a cake. Featured as well is the young poet’s love for his mum and the “fabulousness” of an ordinary Wednesday. Other poems touch on best friendship and how “love can blind us” or descriptive nature poetry such as “Meadow Sleep.” And some poems play with the sound of language, such as “Phone Call” which explores the use of alliteration: “Appalled at my actions / Attending an annual aimless article for absolutely abhorrent / apes.”
It is worth pointing out that the author of this poetry collection is only thirteen years of age. One would not necessarily know it, based on the maturity, depth of style, and substance which a great many of these poems expose to the reader’s imagination. The young poet writes that the material comprising these more than 130 poems was born as “coping mechanisms . . . to get through my own struggles by understanding the perspectives of other people.” The young British writer began composing his poems at the tender age of ten and has since written in excess of 2,000 pieces. To be sure, his voluminous output does not affect the unique, childlike quality of each individual piece. Lovers of language and the creative expression of poetry will certainly enjoy McNaughton’s collection.
PACIFIC BOOK REVIEW:
Teenager Cameron McNaughton explains his work as imagining how other people feel and have experiences, and then creating poetry from it. This theme is reflected in the title of his poetry book. Imaginings: 21st Century Poet is a prolific collection from such a young poet, and a collection which speaks volumes about the poet’s capacity for empathy. The compelling nature of McNaughton’s inspiration is emphasized by his first-person writing style, truly putting himself in another person’s shoes and thereby challenging his readers to do the same.
The variance of emotion in these poems is outstanding. “Lovin’ Forever” is such a surprise, an entirely different voice from the rest of the poems, grungy fun and in love. “Shot Down” is angry and disgusted, every line issues a challenge. Poems written about young men, such as “The Young Boys” and “Don’t Drown,” reflect the pain of growing up, when the innocence of childhood must be outgrown.
The poet yearns toward repetition and rhyme, and because of his sparse, clever rhymes and the hint of a drumbeat behind every repeating line, we as readers yearn for it also. He’s so close! If I were to offer advice to this young poet, I would say, study style. McNaughton does not write limericks or sonnets or anything that cannot be described as his own form, but an understanding of many structured styles will pull his own pieces together. It will develop the rhythm he is currently seeking through repetition and line break. Also: create stronger themes, do not assume the reader knows what is meant. The poems have strong imagery and stronger emotion but little by way to bring it all together. “Goodbye to You” is an example of a poem which could benefit from these two studies. There are one-liners hinting at a bigger meaning, but few clues within the rest of the poem to lend understanding.
McNaughton’s finale piece, “Now I Know My Name,” is an anthem. In the poem, McNaughton writes, “I’m a beast with passion.” Never has a more honest statement been said! His poems have the passion of youthfulness. The value of this collection is it’s perfect angst, the pain of being young and feeling everything so strongly. Never was love more exciting, breakup more heart-rending, the joy and pain so complete and so perfect, as the first time you feel them. In his book’s title, McNaughton declares himself a 21st Century poet. If this is what the new generation of poets will produce, then we have much to look forward to.