Book Review – Digital Hell by William Zerveskes

I read this book in paperback. This is an unsolicited review.

Writer William Zerveskes, or @zilliam_poetry as he goes by on Instagram, is unapologetic and non-traditional in his poetry. I love it. He is super talented in word-play and clever twists and his rhythm is spot-on. Most of the work found in his debut book, which clocks in at just about 100 pages, is political and scathing. He rails against the modern predicament: society, social media, mainstream media, the American dream, corrupt government, religion, and technology.

Certainly he isn’t afraid to shake his fist at status quo and speak on the injustice of modern day living, while also being a part of it. For me, it’s refreshing to read his work. He throws “politically correct” out the window and kicks the snowflake to the curb. He shouts at the futility and snarks at the banality. Perhaps I don’t agree 100% on every political line he draws but I definitely can appreciate his passion. It’s the same for me. I admire his courage and his ability to work it all out in an entertaining way.

My only real gripe about the book lies in its odd formatting, but it’s a minor one from me. The length, the cover, the poetry, and the content all work for me.

I had to laugh at his back cover:

Some of my very favorite pieces include “Regicide: Part One” which he personifies a chess board and all the players. “Existential Vomit” with the questions ‘can I be both me and what you think of me? Have I let who I think you think I am shape me?’ Then “Scapegoat”, a poem from a dog’s point of view, which is both satirical and sadly a bit too on the nose. ‘I watch you devour animals that I’m hardwired to eat, yet I’m fed kibbles… sometimes I can’t try hard enough only to be chastised because your day sucked… sometimes I see through all your little lies but I bury it all in my cute puppy eyes.

“Eat the System” begins with ‘Good morning to you It’s a brand new day Sip on your coffee Get on your way Hit the drive thru You’re running late Clock in, clock out Day in, Day out OBEY OBEY OBEY Give in, or go without pay After all, it’s only your life It’ll be okay’…. which I think a lot of us can relate to. “Hero Worship” reminds us that no matter who we are, doctors, lawyers, rockstars, illegal immigrants, beggars… we are all human, no better, no worse than anyone else. “The Glass House” reminds us that nothing is really private anymore. As soon as you get that smartphone and hit “I agree”, it’s all being recorded and there are no more secrets.

He ends the collection with a small series “Suburban Chernobyl”, of which “Part Two: Judgement Day” is my favorite. Starting with our increasing dependence on our phones and social media, he moves on to slippery slope of creating a world of lab rats with the increasing towers and their radiation, and then on to a future where humans become so infatuated with their creation that it takes over everything, ending with the lines: ‘Love and affection And human connection Sold, so they could transcend They became the machine The machine became them And the soul had come to an end’.

I thoroughly enjoyed William’s book and it’s currently one of my favorite poetry books, with its aptness for today. I give this a 4.5/5, losing a half star for awkward formatting which was a bit uneven and off-putting. Highly recommended for those who enjoy modern free-verse poetry with a political, break-the-system theme.

Read more book reviews by following my Review Category.

be a good writer: read.
~tara caribou

**If this review was helpful or you’ve read it and want to add to the discussion, please let me know in the comments!

I will also, as a side-note, say, it may seem that I am harsh on many writers for their editing, formatting, grammar, punctuation, etc. I do so unapologetically. One, because this is a review, not a popularity contest. Two, because honest criticism should help us grow as artists.

The fact of the matter is, these things MATTER. A mathematician must use his tools and use them correctly to be an effective mathematician. A surgeon cannot simply say, “I know I can’t sew the wound closed but at least I could remove the appendix or whatever it’s called.” Same with writers. We can’t claim to be writers but refuse to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. We can’t claim to be a photographer just because we know how to push the button on the camera (or phone). There’s an art to it.

So while I may appreciate the artist as a person and their words, I believe that it does us all a disservice to say lower quality editing is okay. Believe in yourself! Believe in the power of your words! Put the effort into being the very best you can be. Ask for help. Grow and learn.

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