A Mini Review of Wolfgang Carstens’ Hell And High Water

Wolfgang CarstensHELL AND HIGH WATER, Carstens’ latest poetry collection, chronicles twenty-five years of marriage and children. There is drudgery, spite, regret and resentment. There are hangovers, sarcastic swipes and cold shoulders. There is humiliation, more than a few sex toys and an over-spilling confrontation. Most importantly of all, though, there is a thread of vulnerability that has been realised through long-lasting commitment.

Hell and High Water is Wolfgang Carstens at his best. These poems are reflective of the human spirit in all its complexities and contradictions. Even more so than in his previous poetic endeavors, here, Wolfgang commits to print what would, under normal circumstances, be hidden within a mess of thought. And, true to form, he lays it all out in accessible terms.

By admitting to cowardice and petty-mindedness, the narrator takes ownership of his own fallibility. By recognising the fallibility of his life partner, he has come to a place where he can trust the sincerity of love. It isn’t the type of love found in romance novels or god-awful romcoms. It is the type of love that has both, figuratively and literally, smelt the other’s shit for twenty-five years, and with all integrity intact, can continue to say, “I fucking love you.”

To get behind the scenes of Carstens’ latest, read his SWB interview here.


Title: Hell and High Water
Author: Wolfgang Carstens
Publisher: Six Ft Swells Press
Editor: Todd Cirillo
Book and Cover Design: Julie Valin
Photograph on front cover: Matt Amott
Available at lulu.com
ISBN: 978-0-9853075-6-1



Matthew J. Hall

Matthew J. Hall

An avid reader, writer and reviewer of poetry and short fiction. Author of Blood Pudding Press 2015 chapbook contest winner, Pigeons and Peace Doves and The Human Condition is a Terminal Illness will soon be available through Bareback Press (2017).
Matthew J. Hall
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