Death By Active Movement: The Certainty of Life through Poetry,” a collection of poems about death, explores the many facets of an inevitable phenomenon in order to “display its beauty”.
“Death is something that can be owned and used to better our lives,” said Steven T. Licardi, the author of the book and a senior psychology and philosophy double major.
“I realize how macabre it comes off, a book about death, but the book itself serves to challenge readers by facing the concept and hopefully leave them with a greater appreciation for life.”
Licardi, also known by his pseudonym “The Sven-Bo!” or simply “(x)-|-Z-<,” is a 24-year-old writer from West Islip, NY.
While a student at Suffolk County Community College, he won first place for his poem “Early Girl” in a poetry contest hosted by Cassandra, the literary magazine of SCCC, Grant Campus. In 2012, he was a finalist in the Paumanok Poetry Competition hosted by Farmingdale State College.
His most recent work, “Death By Active Movement: The Certainty of Life through Poetry,” is being published by Local Gems Poetry Press, a small company owned by Licardi’s friend and fellow poet James P. Wagner.
One of the more poignant poems in the work is titled “1.7 (One Point Seven)”. The title signifies a statistic that estimates that a living being dies every 1.7 seconds.
Taking on the perspective of a soldier at war in Iraq, Licardi illustrates a scene that, although brash in diction, gives a sense of sincerity and closure.
With repetition of the phrase “that crisp realization,” Licardi displays that the soldier and those responding to his fatal injury have come to terms with his imminent death.
Realizing the scope of his own death, the soldier ponders the deaths of the “insects, cells and distant stars,” perishing at the same moment. This identification with the natural order and the ubiquitous strike of death leaves the soldier satisfied.
“All The Others,” a poem that serves as an epitaph for all the writers, artists and intellectuals which history never acknowledged, goes on a passionate rant that ends with Licardi asserting, “I will resurrect them / I will immortalize them / I promise.”
“All The Rest,” a sister poem to “All The Others,” ponders Licardi’s possible influence upon the “hearts and minds” of artists to come. “Will this poem succeed me or be laid to rest with my remains?” Licardi ruminates.
Licardi treads on more topical subject matter with “Tête-à-tête: A Reflection on School
Shootings in Two Parts,” a poem based on shootings, specifically the school shooting in Newtown, CT.
After listening to Licardi perform this piece on YouTube, I came to realize his strength as an orator. Gleaming with rage, Licardi’s words were straightforward and peppered in staccato bursts, quite a lot like the spray of gunfire.
The poem on paper completely lost the zest of Licardi’s spirited delivery. In fact, I’d venture to say that many of his pieces resound better in the ears than they do on the eyes.
Some poems in this collection rest firmly on clichéd imagery and metaphors. Some poems opt for rhyme schemes that just seem outright forced.
In “The Assassination of the Assassin,” Licardi does not waver from an ABAB rhyme scheme. “With his shoulder as he drew his gun / He opened the door remorselessly / And aimed the barrel straight with fun / And a smile that he wore precociously.”
But who is to expect perfection from every piece? Licardi is a talented poet with a bright future ahead of him. He hopes to pursue a career in clinical psychology and is passionate about advocacy through expression.
“It is my identity as an artist that I think makes me a true activist. Expression can be used as a tool to move people. The power of ideas is incredible. Give someone an idea, allow them to own that idea, allow them to give that idea to others, and you can change the world.”