(Published by Cyberwit.net, 2006, ISBN 81-8253-070-9, 103 pages, paperback, US$15)
All, At Once is commendable because of its breadth of subject matter, poetic styles and ambitiousness. Wilson effectively employs storytelling techniques and commentaries regarding questions and issues of philosophy, spirituality, social consciousness etc. in a variety of contexts. This is the kind of poetry book that can be randomly opened and read (either to oneself or aloud for another), rather than necessarily read cover-to-cover, in paginated order.
Robert M. Wilson has a gift for humour and a musical poetic voice. However, there are some literary issues I would address. Rhyming poetry can sometimes overemphasise the humorous, at times belabouring verse with a sing-song quality that detracts from the intensity of the work. Likewise, the usage of repetition in general, and uneven internal poetic meter in rhyming poetry can - when the craftsmanship is not top notch - take away from the natural music in the poem.
A brief explanation of what I mean here: for me, meter in poetry is much more than counting and matching the number of syllables. There exists also an internal poetic meter which is natural and free flowing at its best. When this natural internal poetic meter gives way to the mathematical it can sometimes feel non-poetic or even forced.
Sometimes we desire a three-legged halting feeling, but this should be thought through and employed carefully and intentionally. I suspect that there is a bit of a songwriter in Wilson, and he is probably (or could be) a good one. However, I do not personally consider all song-writing to be fine literature.
That being said, there are many fine works in All, At Once, and the title is quite apt. Wilson has also written a poem entitled "Trick or treat?", which I have found appropriate enough to include in the title of this literary criticism. This because of the many true gems that are mixed together with a few works that perhaps are not quite on the same literary level as the best of his poetic works in this collection of poems. I find the most effective of Wilson's poems to be those that tell a story, his expressions of sensuality and his social commentaries, and other works where he simply tells it like it is - using free verse. I do appreciate the fact that Wilson is not afraid to experiment or to vary his style.
Literary criticism (2008) by Adam Donaldson Powell (based upon "All, At Once", published by Cyberwit.net, 2006, ISBN 81-8253-070-9, 103 pages, paperback, US$15)
ROBERT M. WILSON (USA) has written three chapbooks of aphorisms and five books of poetry.