Doug Bengtson recently published his third book of poetry. The title is Poetic Just-us, which plays off the phrase poetic justice, but also refers to the aspect that his whole family contributed poems to the book.
The concept started with his second book. His daughter had written a poem and he included it in that one. This time he had his entire family get involved. He wanted them to do it to have the writing experience. He did have to bribe some family members to get them to write. He was very surprised at the high quality poems they came up with. The table of contents lists who wrote what, including his wife, daughters, in-laws, and grandkids.
The topics of the poems are fairly widespread, the inspiration comes from daily life. His process for the layout is to pick his two favorites, and put one at the beginning, and one at the end. His youngest daughter wrote the first poem in the book. The last one is actually a quadrilogy called The 24 Horsemen, based on the western show The Magnificent Seven, which is based on the 1960s movie of the same name, which is based on the Akira Kurosawa film The Seven Samurai (who gave his blessing to the western movie remake.)
Other subjects include Ole and Sven, Mr. Volstead, Willie’s Korner Store, Carl’s Bakery, nurses, the bird feeder in his back yard, sports, and more. Bengtson describes the poems as the story of his life.
Dave Rupp of Clarkfield put the book together, and actually came up with the idea for the title. Bengtson planned to do “Poetic Justice” and Rupp suggested “Just-Us” because of the family aspect. The cover is a family photo. He also added illustrations to reflect what the family came up with.
For his next project, he’s wanting to expand his writing skills and challenge himself. He wants to tackle a heavier subject for his next book. Right now he is leaning toward the topic of death. life after death, what's after the grave, going to the grave. He also wants to move away from rhyming. He read that rhyming was the easiest form of poetry. It’s useful for teaching/learning. It does come with challenges, like needing an extensive and creative vocabulary.
A popular comment he gets is “I like your poems because they rhyme.” When done well, non-rhyming poems can be a much deeper level of art. It's similar to appreciating some of the more modern art movements that some people describe as "scribbles, or something my 4-year-old could make"
After finishing the book, he’s had a huge case of writer’s block. He’s kept busy with other work, but is formulating ideas, including an audio reading of the poems. He mentioned that a friend of his is working on putting some of the poems to music. His main goal was just expressing himself through his writing, and having his family share the experience, since they enjoyed his previous works.