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Elizabeth Brewster.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1982.
97pp, paper, $17.95 (cloth), $8.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88750-446-9 (cloth), 0-88750447-7 (paper).

Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by Tony Cosier.

Volume 11 Number 1.
1983 January.

"Poetry, I think/is rather like the stew/I enjoy cooking up on winter afternoons./There's no simple recipe."

This statement from "Potluck" is consistent with the flavour of Digging In. In this volume of new poems, Elizabeth Brewster is indeed mixing a stew with no single recipe. In "Games and Diversions," she lists "writing a poem" alongside babysitting, shopping in supermarkets, and watching television. In "Nine Poems for Raman," poems are set alongside flowers as the "most graceful gifts/friend can give to friend." In "Not Marble Nor the Gilded Monuments," she realizes most poems don't make it into sober bindings, asks "why write?," and fashions her answer by comparing a poem to garbage, then sliding poetry beside a skipping rhyme and a recipe for lemon bread. In a more sober vein, she alludes to Yeats, Homer, Milton, whips lung's blasphemous dream into an assault on God's throne, yet swings readily into verse for an elementary primer—"sometimes I go up/sometimes I go down" and "clip-clop we go riding/ into the haunted valley." She fantasizes standing on rooftops, naked and shouting. She tells how she has been regarded as mad by a conservative student and is delighted.

Despite all this facile shifting, most of the postures are low-key enough to keep Brewster from seeming offensive. All poses aside, this poet has many sensible values and expresses them clearly. She prefers real flowers to artificial ones. She relates to natural creatures. She owns up to her anxieties. She doesn't like bombs "since I think I might be killed by one." She admires the fighting spirit of the legless lady. She feels sentimental bonds towards several people, living and dead.

These poems will be accessible and (with the possible exception of the Jung poem) palatable to the mass of students in the intermediate and senior grades.

Tony Cosier, Confederation HS, Nepean, ON.
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