Book Review: Iron Man Family Outing – Poems about a transition into a more conscious manhood by Rick Belden.

Fathers are important, especially to little boys. The author of this anthology of poems, Rick Belden, describes his father as “angry, abusive” and “unavailable”. To cope with the hurt, Rick escaped into imaginative fantasy. His favourite was the comic book hero, Iron Man. When the Iron Man started to appear in his dreams as an adult, it precipitated a forensic examination of his childhood and the man he had become.

This book of poetry documents, often with brutal honesty, Rick’s penetrating and uncompromising search for himself. As a therapist I am used to accompanying clients on such journeys to the core of their being. Rick’s journey is often heartbreaking as he reveals his angst, anger and despair.

Like all books of poetry, I let the words wash over me. Some spoke to me more than others. Those that did speak to me addressed the damaged child within. That child I had to learn to befriend, and even take out to play.

Indeed, Rick’s book speaks to the damaged child in all of us. But Rick goes further and shows how that damaged child, with low self worth, becomes an adult that acts out in unhelpful ways. For example by using sex to give and receive pain.

Rick’s work, if it anything, is transformative. It holds out in optimism that by courageously facing the child we were, we can create a more rewarding future for the adult we want to become.

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