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Michael Duncan.

New Westminster (BC), New Westminster Chamber of Commerce, c1981.
Distributed by New Westminster Chamber of Commerce, 33 Brunette St., New Westminster, BC, V3L3E7.
unpaged, cloth, $10.95.

Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by Phyllis James.

Volume 11 Number 4.
1983 July.

Here is a book for the young reader who might avoid poetry reading. Leave it on your coffee table, and waiting guests, especially any from around New Westminster, B.C., will be reading it to each other. The poems might need repeating as punctuation is scarce, but there is little obscure thought. A simile in one poem about the river "like a ribbon" could describe most of the pages with the verses flowing through the centre of each page, leaving wide margins, and giving a visual impression of the Fraser River.

It is a handsome volume, well-bound with quality off-white pages, and each poem is accompanied with a meticulous pen sketch by the many-talented author. Sketches of historical buildings in and around New Westminster are also included.

The poems tell of Indian people of the past, of haunting old houses, of churches, in reverent tones, of beachcombers, in minute detail, and many more subjects. Derelict boats are described poetically. In fact, of the thirty poems, at least one third tell of ships and the sea. The author, educated in a naval academy, is at his best when writing about the sights and sounds of this port city. Only occasionally does he depart from the river and ships to enter the«city. Here the feelings of the poet languish and his poetry diminishes in quality.

The reader is aware of Duncan's close association with all things in and around the river. He sees such details as the sun on the seagulls after the rain, the flight of the deer from a forest fire and even the railway tracks "glistening snail like silver streaks."

The rhythm of the seasons is reflected in so many poems. Tone as well as fresh sight and sound images make the whole book worth repeated readings. West coast high school students and certainly those near the city of New Westminster would renew their joy in poetry by reading and examining the sketches in Michael Duncan's delightful book. Recommended.

Phyllis James, Qualicum Beach, BC.
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