Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet
Threed Press (2011)
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views (10/11)
Author Cameron Conaway is wise beyond his years. He demonstrates this clearly with honest self-analysis and unfiltered feelings in his fierce first book, “Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet.” It’s as much about casting off the cages in his life as it is about the constraints they imposed on his heart and soul.
“Caged” delves deep into Conaway’s demeaning, painful upbringing by his pathetically dysfunctional father. By the time he was thirteen, he was totally devastated by his environment and experiences. The remainder of the book is spent retelling and reflecting on the events of his past and present and on the application of his learned lessons on his aspirations for the future.
Conaway takes the road less traveled on his self-discovery journey the reader is invited to join. The choices he makes in pursuit of redemption are unexpected. His writing style is unconventional. His chapters are unpredictable. They flow smoothly enough to weave his writing tightly, but not so smoothly to allow us to know what’s next; what’s next is sometimes impossible to anticipate. The chapters have a self-contained, short story quality; some are rough and raw, some inspire, some are magical, and, some impart an almost heroic dignity to Conaway’s Warrior Spirit.
“Red Tail, Chapter 14” and “Caged – Part Two, Chapter 15,” which describes his second MMA cage fight, are back-to-back demonstrations of the range of Conaway’s craft and creative process. Both are at once real and surreal, raw power and mysticism. Whenever he feels like doing so, he steps outside his story to deliver teachable moments and to offer explanations and revelations of personal philosophies. He seems to find learning in every activity and invites the reader to do the same.
“Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet,” is one hell of a debut book. In this review, I have chosen to deliberately provide only the bare bones of Conaway’s story. Instead, I have concentrated on my reactions during and after reading the book. “As for the adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.” said Mark Twain, but “Caged” leaves one addicted to adjectives.
I want you to read “Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet.” I want you to root for Cameron Conaway. Most importantly, I want everyone to seriously consider the Warrior Spirit movement he has conjured. If you seek inspiration for dramatic change in your life, you will find it in “Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet.”