Author in Trees
John McGuire, Sr. has been writing poetry since childhood. The St. Charles resident has
published a collection of his works titled "One Man's Life: A Poetic Review." The subjects
of his poetry range from the sad (divorce) to the uplifting (motorcycles).

Contributing writer

ST. CHARLES -- "One Man's Life: A Poetic Review" is really about all of our lives, according to author John McGuire, Sr.

The book is a collection of 64 poems McGuire wrote over the last 31 years.

"Its an anthology from childhood, a collection of experiences from a masculine perspective," McGuire said.

McGuire's poetry deals with topics that touch many lives today, such as divorce, the separation of children from parents, falling in love and step families.

He also writes about the state of the world as he observes it, describing the mediocrity and disillusionment he sees.

But there are uplifting poems, too -- about horses, motorcycles, skydiving, memories of laughter-filled days.

"Some of the poetry is sensitive, some of it is sad, some of it's about abortion, mediocrity, loyalty, alcohol, but more importantly, I'm not writing so much about my life but about everyone's lives and what we've experienced," McGuire explained.

Although McGuire had recorded his life's experiences in poetry since childhood, it was a friend -- a female lawyer -- who suggested he publish it.

She said there weren't enough men who could communicate sensitive feelings in an acceptable manner.

McGuire said by publishing the book he hoped to reflect people's experiences back at them and get them to think about the current state of our world.

In fact, McGuire sees a world that needs changing, a world which has gotten side-tracked from what's truly important and addresses that issue in poems such as "Losers" and "Mediocrity."

"I think we're in a state of feeling-lessness," McGuire said. "Over the past 30 years, we've developed into a very cold society. I think we're living in a world of apathy, which is the result of some failure on the part of the parental role, the corporate role, the media and tremendous lack of trust in the governmental ruling body." "The Mission" and "Procrastination" deal with the fact people need to honestly face problems and be willing to work to solve them. One verse in "The Mission" states:

"Directions sure I'll drive all right;
with corners dark I'll drive at night.
My goal to be none but the best,
I'll win this race or I'll not rest."

"We live in a society, in my opinion, in which too many people are whining complainers -- people who don't start in their own backyard, solving their own problems. People need to take charge instead of complaining. Only then can we map our own success. Success is the result of having and believing in a plan."

The place to start is in the home, McGuire explained.

"I feel confident and hopeful that our greatest natural resource is not oil or recycling, and it's certainly not corporate incomes, but it's the American family," McGuire, said. "This poetry is dedicated to the preservation of the American family."

He has dealt personally with the pain of divorce and separation from his children and writes about it in "A Matter of Convenience," "Johnny" to his son and "There Were Good Times" about his and his ex-wife's past.

The cover photo for the book is a poster illustrating "A Matter of Convenience." In the poster, McGuire's son and daughter sit in a trash can, cold scowls on their faces, surrounded by the trappings of modern life.

"That poem is a very hard statement, but a very direct and honest statement, about the American family. The picture is meant to make you crazy. No one can look at this and tell me that they feel OK -- it's very disturbing and upsetting, and it was meant to be."

"Fathers" is a poem in which McGuire urges all fathers, whether single, married or divorced, to take the time to be a real father to their children.

"Protection and strength,
provider who's strong
Live up to your job,
giving love is not wrong.
Be kind to your children
and be there to listen,
don't beat them with words
or their lives may not glisten"

McGuire also feels the prevalence of divorce today has profoundly damaged American society, and this is one of the recurring themes in the book, especially in "A Matter of Convenience," "Step-Family" and "A Plea."

"I think that divorce has gotten completely out of hand... when I go to the airport to pick up my children, because they fly in once every six weeks, I see 8 to 10 dads all waiting in line to get their kids from the airplane. And I say, we've got a problem here," McGuire said.

McGuire credits a sense of empathy with enabling him to write poetry.

"As a poet, I have to feel very deeply what you feel because if I don't feel it, I can't communicate it back to you," He said. "As a poet, I consider it my greatest asset to be able to put myself in your shoes." Despite tackling big issues, the book itself is a slim paperback volume, 80 pages in length. McGuire said he wanted it to be easy to read. "Its just a little, tiny book, and I designed it to be tiny. What I'm trying to convey here on a quick-read basis is that everyone in our society is important. It's meant to be a quick read because we're not living in a highly literate society."

He wants his poetry to be grounded in reality and easy to understand.

"I think the reason that this type of writing works is because people can relate to it. It's not hard to interpret," McGuire said. "I think that we need to have poetry that is realistic."

"One Man's Life: A Poetic Review" was published by Blossom Publishing Company, which McGuire owns. McGuire said Blossom, a multi-media publishing company, is dedicated to "sending messages to our contemporary society that are positive, uplifting, that cause the society to become cognizant of what we are, where we are and who we are."

Self-publishing also gave McGuire the creative control over the book he wanted.

Soon, McGuire plans to release an album of the poetry in "One Man's Life: A Poetic Review" on which he will speak and sing the poems with background music.

For the most part, his family reacted positively to the book, he said.

"I'm sure at least one family member was mildly hesitant to accept that this was anything salable, interesting to anybody else or significant. A lot of people may think, what an ego trip. He's just going on and on about himself. And if they perceive it in that manner, they've misperceived it. This is a book about everybody's life and what it says is that we all count," he said.

McGuire is planning to write another book and is busy giving public readings and signings of "One Man's Life.

At 8:30 a.m. Thursday, he can be heard on a local morning talk show on AM-1480. Then that night, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., he will be reading his poems and signing books and posters at the Grateful Heart Cafe in Geneva.

Several other book signings are planned, including one at 2 p.m. Sept. 9 at Town House Books in St. Charles and another from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 16 at Powerhouse Gym in St. Charles.

"One Man's Life" is available in most area book stores. The book also is available in the waiting room at M & M Hand Car Wash in St. Charles.

More information is available by calling 377-6501 or faxing 377-6502.

This article first appeared in Section D of the Wednesday, August 30, 1995 edition of The Kane County Chronicle, and is used with permission.

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