Valdosta Daily Times

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December 10, 2013

Author unmasks his inner self in latest book

QUITMAN — Duncan McTeague’s book of poetry is far different from his novel, “All the Pretty Girls.”

The latter was a violent thriller, a novel about a series of grisly killings centered around various spring break locations. With his newest book, “Life, Love, and the Darkness in Between,” McTeague moves from murder-mystery to poetry of the soul.

“Poetry has always come easy to me while writing a novel, at least the first, ‘All the Pretty Girls,’ was a labor in that I made every possible mistake there was to make, the end result being that the novel took approximately two years to finish,” says McTeague, 48, of Quitman. “However, my second, as yet unpublished, novel, ‘Kings of Memphis,’ which is twice the length of ‘All the Pretty Girls,’ took a total of seven months. When it comes down to it, poems are, for the most part, collections of one-page thoughts and expressions, so it is far easier to collate and arrange these into book format. I do embark on different genres when writing; however, my first love will be the mystery novel.”

Poetry also provided McTeague, which is the pen name for Duncan Jackson, a cathartic form of expression.

“In all honesty, poetry for me was an outlet: Self-therapy, if you will. I would mask my feelings behind a facade of well-constructed sentences, anecdotes, and analogies,” McTeague says. “Thankfully, mentors such as Jacqueline Harper and Effie Keith made me understand the importance of sharing my pain as opposed to masking it. This allowed for me to take that next step not just as a poet, but as a writer.”

By writing his thoughts and feelings, in some ways, McTeague can be more brutal in “Life, Love and the Darkness in Between” than in the thriller. Through poetry, McTeague searches for the answers but often reveals that poetry, like life and love, isn’t always about answers but rather about asking the right questions, and making the effort to seek answers ... the journey rather than the destination.

He’s been writing poetry for years.

“My earliest influences were Rod McKuen and Jim Morrison, and over the years I have enjoyed Keats, Dickinson, Phillis Wheatley, and Maya Angelou,” McTeague says. “These writers have influenced my perspective of poetry simply because their styles are so drastically different. My book contains the very first poem I wrote in 1983, as well as a mixture of the works I have composed over the years. Though not arranged in a linear fashion, I believe my growth as a poet is evident poem by poem.”

Poetry also suits his current schedule. Pursuing a bachelor’s in literature at Valdosta State University, McTeague hasn’t had the time to devote to a “particular big writing project. ... I have been doing a lot of ‘flash writing’ of late, which is writing short stories 300 words or less. As it stands, I currently have two novels, a screenplay, and several faith-based children’s books I am soliciting for publication. My immediate plan is to try to secure the services of an agent, which will allow for me to take my works to the national level.”

Anyone interested in booking McTeague for readings, or purchasing his novel or poetry book can email dcvantes@hotmail.com. Novel: $20 per copy and poetry $8 per copy, and one of each, $25.

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