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Hyland, Gary.

Moose Jaw, Coteau Books, c1984. 102pp, paper, ISBN 0-919926-29-0 (cloth) $15.00, 0-919926-28-2 (paper) $7.00. Distributed by Thunder Creek Publishing Co-operative. CIP

Grades 7 and up
Reviewed by Pamela Black

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Street of Dreams, Gary Hyland's latest book of poems, is both a regional recreation of Hyland's Saskatchewan past and the charting of an individual boy's psychological odyssey from childhood to some approximation of maturity. The book is divided into six sections. The first three roughly capture the epic contests of boy against boy, boy against man, and boy against strange females. The last three sections are gentler, more philosophical reflections of a man's struggle within himself, with his faith in his perception of the world, and with his offspring who will once again set the epic afire with childish, thoughtless energy.

As the work progresses, a single narrative voice slowly extricates itself from the hordes of pernicious youngsters we fall in with. This voice ultimately merges with the liner notes about a Gary Hyland who teaches high school, has three sons and coaches hockey. The task of interpreting his past, however, has not caused Hyland to exaggerate the differences between himself and his less analytical friends. The stark, unselfconscious cruelty of childhood is no stranger to him, and it is a marvel that Hyland can give us an impartial account of this type of behaviour at the same time as he gently condemns it. Hyland's portrayal of the eternal curse of peer pressure may be of some use to teachers skilful enough to turn students' glances inwards with regards to these sensitive matters.

The value of this book in the classroom depends on the aims of the teacher. It will not prove instrumental in introducing the sonnet form or in interpreting classical symbolism, but it can provide a healthy opportunity to explore our relationship with poetry and with ourselves, through poetry. Hyland, particularly in the book's last section, examines the function that poetic endeavour fills in his life. With mild cynicism, the poet hides behind hard wrought lines that are like "coins" that editors test with "false teeth." "Penned" characters rebel and argue with their creator about the "sanctity of the poet-persona relationship." But finally, is it not possible that we will come to "decode" ourselves, just a little, by struggling with unwieldy language and indifferent poetic conventions, to capture the all too common dilemmas of our mysterious human condition?

Pamela Black, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.
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