The Plague Doctor by James Morehead Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author and poet James Morehead share a chilling and rich collection of poetry that delves into the nature of existence in the book “The Plague Doctor”.


The Synopsis

A mesmerizing collection of eerie, image-rich poems that explore the fleeting nature of existence and friendship, inspired by the world of art and artists. The Plague Doctor combines poetry with mesmerizing ink drawings by Natalia Ardus, art by Mark Kulas and Tony Rubino, and photography by the author.

Poet and musician Lisa Marie Simmons writes in her forward to the collection, “I’ve read this collection three, four, then five times. In my office, in the tour van and the green room, after yoga, and once bundled up beneath an ancient olive tree. Despite those many deep dives, it never seems enough to complete this forward. So I returned—six, seven, ten times. Each reading has me focusing on something new, and a year from now, I know more discoveries will be made as my perspective shifts with my own experiences. This is one of the many things I love about poetry and, in particular, Poet Laureate of Dublin, California, James Morehead’s poetry.”

The Review

These were some incredibly powerful and chilling poems. The fantastic imagery and atmosphere that the author is able to tap into with these poems will stick with readers long after the book has been read, and the imagery that accompanies the book’s pages helps evoke an emotional response that touches upon the iconography that we latch onto to represent the key emotional moments in our lives.

To me, the heart of this collection rested in the balance between macabre imagery and heartfelt themes. The idea of life and death plays across some of life’s toughest moments, from life in the big city (San Francisco in this case) to the striking fear of performing alone on a stage. I also enjoy the way the book was divided into “Acts” as if life were a play and the poems were but the stage in which they were lived, and the way these poems also reflected on the artistic works that moved the author throughout their journey through San Francisco was greatly expressed through these poems.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, haunting, and engaging, author James Morehead’s “The Plague Doctor” is a must-read poetry collection. The almost narrative feel to the overall collection and the memorable way the author was able to tackle such dark and entertaining imagery through their poems with the emotional journey that the poems represented made this a compelling book to get lost in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

James Morehead is the Poet Laureate of Dublin, California, author of canvas: poemsportraits of red and gray: memoir poemsThe Plague Doctor, and he hosts The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast. James’ poem “tethered” was transformed into an award-winning hand drawn animated short film, “Twilight in the Sculpture Forest” into a short film, and “gallery” was set to music for baritone and piano. James is a member of the American Academy of PoetsCalifornia State Poetry SocietyTri-Valley Writers, and AWP.

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