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Milton Acorn.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1983.
(The Modern Canadian Poets).
221pp, paper, $12.95.
ISBN 0-7710-0003-0.

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by Clare A. Darby.

Volume 12 Number 1
1984 January

Milton Acorn (I've Tasted My Blood, 1969; The Island Means Minago, 1975) needs no introduction to devotees of the Canadian literary scene and neither does Al Purdy who made the selection of these mainly previously-published poems. In fact, The Modern Canadian Poets series is not new either. What is new, though, is the surprising range and quality of much of the poetry. Acorn's main strength is his ability to create vivid images of people ("Poem"), places ("The Trout Pond"), and things ("The Hands"). Dig Up My Heart covers all of these and many other subjects as well. There are poems about love, poets, famous people, life, death, and, above all, rage. It is the latter, as subject and as tone, that highlights the best and the worst of Milton Acorn. When, as in "I've Tasted My Blood," Acorn shows us his rage, then he moves us, but when, as in "Ordinary Story," he simply tells of his rage, then his message falls on deaf ears. Fortunately, Acorn shows more than he tells. That does not mean that you will like these mostly free-verse philosophical statements with their sometimes trite and abrupt endings, but it does mean that Milton Acorn really does deserve a place in the annals of CanLit.

The print is clear, and the text well-bound, although the cover tends to dogear a bit too easily. This text is recommended for senior high schools and universities with courses in both Canadian literature and Canadian studies.

Clare A. Darby, Three Oaks S. H. S., Summerside, PEI.
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