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The Rite of Passage
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A Review of The Rite of Passage by Joseph McCullough




Have you ever wondered about life?  About the meaning of your existence on earth?  In this poem, Joseph McCullough tries to analyze our existence on earth using a deluge of imageries and poetic devices that will entice readers and keep them hooked from the first page to the very last.


Reviewed by Liana Metal



By Joseph McCullough

Six Gallery Press,

2004,ISBN 0-9746033-5-X,paperback,pp.95,Very Highly Recommended






Joseph McCullough, a teacher of Handicapped and English, and a graduate of Girard College, Philadelphia Community College and Temple University , lives in New Jersey with his two children.  THE RITE OF PASSAGE  is his fourth book.


THE RITE OF PASSAGE  is a rhapsody on life,  eternal life , life on earth , but includes parts of  the author’s own life as well.  The readers can learn about the author’s life on page 13: ‘ I venture to add to my generation but remain within my own life,/ one began at nine months before birth and by the same time after/ left fatherless, raised in infancy by the concept of post world/ war housing projects ,removed by the state of law to be reared/… .’


Joseph deals with the concept of Religion on page 12:  ‘Religion must retreat from its words that condemn persons/ if the lifestyle of its leaders exceeds those of its followers, /especially those hard pressed to have a place to breathe;/… .’


He talks about his country, America, on page 56:  America, land of one  continent abridged by the oceans ,/rifted by the spirographic turn of a galaxy in its universe/… .’  The concept of being alive is on page 65 :  ‘Ever the present is there, the appearance of being in life,/ever the present ,the sensation of being alive ,the speed/… .’  He then  addresses the issue of women on page 66:  ‘Hidden by the years and the slow decline of facades,/the woman looked about the earth ,not that it mattered/… .’


There is an inspirational part on page 72:  ‘See for yourself the day, not from inside your memories/but as new thoughts in life, without fear in being, with light / of darkness and clear of shadows…’  The issue of Religion is addressed once more on page 73:  ‘Religion, the speaking of the mind to a creator of its origins,/the voice of being , life formed of the universal elements,/the spirit before conception… .’


On page 75 , Joseph writes about his work and himself:  ‘Now this poem, a poet’s analogue of thoughts ,abbreviated/from master scrolls of purist taste ,saturate in repetition/… .’  Next, on page 77 the author exhorts readers to self-inquiry to discover themselves:  ‘…look at your own selves and see in silence your true vision.’


On page 88 the writer tries to find the purpose in life:  ‘ Me, who I am, a person of self recognized when requested/of life, chosen as a being of time rendering all associations/of humanity… .’  His love for being alive is displayed on page 91 while the last part of his poem tells the readers that life goes on .  At the epilogue ,on pp.93-94 , the author exhorts readers that their ‘emotional passage of life’s journeys’ , ‘are not in vain solitaire rides’.


To sum up, Joseph’s work is amazing.  The title is oblique and intriguing.  The ‘rite of passage’ , the way we live our life, has both a literal and a metaphoric  meaning . Focusing on the ‘rite’ we understand that ‘traveling’ is the important element in our life’s journey.  The impulse and  emotion behind the poem seem true and the author leads us to a journey of discovery .


The poem is written in ‘free verse’ , that is , he uses none of the established metrical patterns .  It mainly relies on alliteration and assonance.  In this way, the author succeeds in giving readers vivid detail for our imagination to work with.


This Rhapsody on the meaning of life is exciting in every aspect.  It is a wonderful poem that will satisfy all the poetry lovers and not only them. Prose lovers can read this poem too, as the ‘free-verse’ is appealing to a wider audience. Rich vocabulary selection and rich images comprise a poem that will speak to the readers’ hearts and make them question their existence on earth.


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