Concern for Families,
Work Experiences Inspire Poet

By Eric Krol
Daily Herald Staff Writer

John McGuire has a message for today's suburban families, and it's not one they'll necessarily like.

"The American home looks like a nice place to live," says McGuire. "But it's so full of falsehoods. It's so full of trickery. Parents are so selfish."

That selfishness, he adds, is partially to blame for the high divorce rate and subsequent disintegration of the family unit in homes across an otherwise idyllic suburbia.

It's those serious themes of divorce, abortion, '80s greed and the war between the sexes that McGuire tackles in his first book of poetry, "One Man's Life: A Poetic Review."

McGuire, a St. Charles advertising sales executive and entrepreneur, said he wrote many of 60 poems while living in Naperville in the early 1980s. He decided to self-publish the book at the urging of several acquaintances who had read his work, including a priest at Saints Peter & Paul Church in Naperville.

"Women wanted sensitive men. In many cases they got them and when they did, they decided to take shots at them."
-- John McGuire

"They thought it was extremely unique that any man would have the guts or the moxie to open his life up to such a discussion," he says.

Seeing the book come to fruition also fulfilled a piece of advice that his mother, Marjorie, gave to him while he was growing up in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood.

"When I was a young boy, my mother said to me you have to do three things: Plant a tree, raise a family and write a book," he says.

The Scotch pine tree that he planted at his family's Michigan summer home still stands tall and McGuire has had three children during his two marriages, both of which ended in divorce.

In fact, he says, those breakup experiences -- and his subsequent reflections on the battle between the sexes -- provide the fuel for much of his poetic fire.

"Women wanted sensitive men. In many cases they got them and when they did, they decided to take shots at them." McGuire says. "We as men need to have a source of communication, of openness with our families, and many spokes - people who can communicate on our behalf. I think I'm that guy."

McGuire says the goal of his poetry is to reawaken what he calls a lost interest in the country's greatest resource -- the family unit.

"People are on a selfish run right now and I'm trying to draw them back into more romantic ways."

"The American family is our greatest resource. Its not corporate profits. It certainly is not the accumulation of wealth," he says.

McGuire says he had experience with the '80s greed mentality while working in corporate America during its most recent heyday. That's where poems with titles like "Corporate Slob" and "Mediocrity" came from.

The poetry itself is far from Longfellow or Yeats. It's written in sort of a musical, rhyming iambic pentameter style.

For example, the poem called "Suzanne" contains the lines: "A wink and your soul/my heart and its goal/pristine like a foal/I smile when I think of your face/as we stop in this vast human race."

McGuire freely admits he probably won't be studied as one of the classics. But that, he maintains, has never been his goal.

"All I wanted to do was entertain in an art form in a manner that was point blank and direct and easy to understand. Most people are not able to interpret poetry today. My poetry is as easy to understand as I am. Anybody who can read can understand what I'm writing."

While many of the poems are culled from McGuire's personal life experiences, he says his message is meant to be more universal.

"It's not really about my life, this book. If you claim it to be about my life, then you miss the point. This book is about our lives. We all experience these things," he says.

With is first book out of the way, McGuire says he's looking for speaking engagements and possible a talk-show gig, so he can serve as a spokesman for the male point of view on issues, such as divorce and relations between the sexes.

He's also started on a second book of poems.

"I realize I can't change the world," he admits. "But if each and every person would look at their life and review it, then we could attain a better existence for our children and ourselves."

McGuire's book can be found at Town House Books, 105 N. 2nd Ave., St. Charles, and at Borders Books, 830 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. It will also be available through Anderson's Bookshops at 123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, 176 N. York Road, Elmhurst, and 5112 Main St., Downers Grove.

This article first appeared in Section 3 of the Monday, October 23, 1995 edition of The Daily Herald, and is used with permission.

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