The Naked Truth Revealed

Review of Evermore by Mihaela Melnic and Scott Thomas Outlar

Evermore by Mihaela Melnic and Scott Thomas Outlar is a poetry and prose collection that focuses on reality as it is – a society that is hectic, engrossed in shallowness and mimicry, blinded by trend- guiding forces and people being followers like flocks of sheep in their daily routine life.

This book opens with Mihaela Melnic’s short prose-writing of how an island was born out of the union of two monkeys swinging on a ray of light. “Not sure if there was wisdom” and a paradise for fools was formed. The Monkey symbolizes human beings as mechanical/robotic in behavioural patterns and actions. This brings sarcasm/irony. It makes one wonder “Is the paradise real?”

Safety on the island is reflected in Melnic’s poem Across the Island:

“And our dwellings were safer than heaven.”

This gives a vivid imagery and emphasizes an innocent tone at first glance. However, there is a crucial poignant point here. It affirms that it was better than paradise. Normally, paradise is considered as the dream and well cherished refuge of all creatures. But here, the poetess dares to go beyond the general beliefs. This adds a tinge of poetic originality demarking the power of poetic imagination.

The disillusionment of Humankind in society is one of the dominant themes in this book. This is clearly revealed by:

  1. Human beings confounding the real and the ideal and some holding on in between the real and imaginary perceptions. The lines of the poem The Hat clearly emphasize on that:

but the sea
is not even the sea

It is a huge hat
in which I sacrifice my head
thought after thought

  1. Putting good and evil on the same platform

This is shown in the poem One Way Ticket:

When we fell into Evermore’s jaws
that were flung open to welcome
both innocents and sinners…

Such unfairness echoes the Buddhist’s philosophy of the whole life and world being illusionary.

    1. The false notion of love that people carry within their hearts

In the poem, Looking Back by Melnic the following lines say it all:

and every line you etched
on the tree bark
tells stories of a man whose love
was that of fools

Love that is usually considered pure, innocent and calming has an underlying illusory face of the unwise or illogical. Any mature person has undoubtedly experienced this.

Thus, it becomes clear through these writings that the cause of illusion is the ambiguous duality that puts human beings in a dilemma. One can spend a major part of life or even a whole life questioning about what is right or wrong or what is real goodness or villainy. People seem to be entrapped in this unending cycle.

The dedication section of this book states that the famous writer George Orwell has been one of the main sources of inspiration in the creation of this writing by Mihaela Melnic and Scott Thomas Outlar. We find echoes and similar glimpses of Orwell’s satirical and profound book Animal Farm in the following creative pieces: In the Fauces of the Farm (co-written by Outlar and Melnic), Ham & Havarti on Sourdough (by Scott Thomas Outlar), Synod (by Mihaela Melnic), The B*g Number One (by Melnic) and Hymnal for the Sun (by Outlar). All these poems reflect the Farm where animals rejoice, plot, rebel, and apply various strategies to fulfill their selfish needs. This is also applicable to the society where rulers and followers or politicians and non-politicians co-habit.

Another writer who has been a muse to this book as mentioned in the dedication part is Edgar Allan Poe, one of the best authors of the literary world. The poem Evermore (by Mihaela Melnic), which is also the title of this book, clearly echoes Poe’s poem The Raven as far as the tone, theme and the heavy, dark atmosphere are concerned:

In the darkest night of summer
as I plucked feathers off my raven
with the patience of those lunatics…….
while I plucked so, nearly crying,
the bell notified a message
for some bold creature there asking
the permission to write on………..
It wasn’t the summer of sober……

This emphasizes best on the mysterious, dark and strenuous societies that human beings live in. The Raven reflects something mysterious as well. “Is it an omen, a call of Death? What will be the aftermath?” Such thoughts often wander in the minds of all terrestrial creatures at some stage in life.

The Pandemic of Covid 19 hit the world during 2020 and all through 2021. Both the co-authors of this collection have not remained insensitive to this issue. The poems Faith (by Melnic), Nature and her Vacuum (by Outlar) and Going Viral (by Outlar) clearly point out the pandemic effect on the world and the Human race.

Lines from Nature and Her Vacuum give such a clear description of the situation:

I smell
the spell
of fear
behind your mask

Those lines reflect the fear of death characterized globally, human beings losing the superficial carefree joy of living and becoming conscious of a thin margin separating life and death.

Slavery to technology is another reality that we all live in on a routine basis. For more than two decades most people have been engrossed on the internet and applications on mobiles, PCs, laptops and tablets. Giving in to the Beast by Outlar shows how humankind has become addicted to technology. The following lines of Leviathan Engulfs by Outlar are like spears piercing the core of our minds and souls:

Google is
the type of God
that’ll lead you astray
and then suck you dry
to prelude slaughter.

This shows the dangerous impact of the internet on the public. It’s like a warning to humankind: “Beware! Beware of the information provided on the internet.” Indirectly, this is also a call for educated/literate people to logically analyse all information before internalizing and believing it as gospel truth.

Poets are often known as supporters of freedom and even being distinct from the mob. In Escaped from the Sheepfold Melnic says, “and I’m going my way.” Outlar’s poem, Broken Geometry echoes the same need to break off from the shackles engulfing the society. Therefore, both poets express the need for liberation from a fake and shallow society that we live in. The usual daring attitude of poets is emphasized in those writings. This also encourages people to be themselves and not follow the crowd with blindfolded eyes.

Both poets express their deep love and belief in the Art of poetry-writing through the respective poems An Ode to the Word (by Outlar) and Stateless (by Melnic). Both these writings lay emphasis on the strength of poetry and its being a means to liberate from all stress, burdens and barriers. Melnic says it so beautifully in her poem, “Dear poet, you are stateless.” This links poetry with freedom and a release from all segmented borders or groups.

The Divine Force has also been valued in this book through Melnic’s Ode to the Earth. In this poem Earth reflects glimpses of God. Thus, it is a call for humankind to respect Earth and God’s creation.

Finally, the book ends with two poems, one in normal verse style and another one in prose style. The poem Abomination’s End by Scott Thomas Outlar reflects a doomed society plagued by diseases and sufferings and humankind being in a “no way to escape” situation.

The last poem, Chewing the Cud III, written by Outlar, finally brings a call to establish a new, calmer and more beautiful world. This brings the deep message and essence of this collection of brilliant literary work.

The style of this poetry and prose book brings together the most profound creative energy of the poets/authors Scott Thomas Outlar and Mihaela Melnic. This work sheds light on reality rather than idealism and the pieces of featured writings are basically grounded.  The naked Truth, irony, sarcasm, hidden humour and poignancy flow in the pages of Evermore. The words flow so spontaneously that they instantly reach the minds, hearts and souls.

Evermore is undoubtedly a book that will wake up or shake the readers and break the walls of their comfort zones. This is a realistic literary gem, a must-read for all avid readers who value justice, tolerance, truth and an un-masked life or society.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon is an author of various poetry books and an experimental abstract artist from Mauritius. She writes poetry in English, French, Mauritian Kroel and Hindu, and she has been selected as one of the poets for Guidi Gozzano Poetry contest from 2016 to 2020. She is a representative of Immagine and Poesia, an Italy-based literary movement uniting artists and poets’ works, and is one of the interview editors of the bi-annual online journal, Asian Signature. She lives in Mauritius where she works as a literary translator. Some of her books are available on her Amazon author page. Read other articles by Vatsala.