CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Scobie, Stephen.

Lantzville (B.C.), Oolichan Books, c1984. 79pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-88982-074-0. CIP

Reviewed by Vivienne Denton

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Expecting Rain, the latest collection of poems by Stephen Scobie, writer, critic, journalist, and publisher, is a set of urbane, rather literary reminiscences. Scobie has chosen quotations from Bob Dylan songs for his title, and for epigrams and allusions throughout the collection. He has set these sixties songs as a context for the poems which are concerned with the passing of time, old friendships, and accumulated memories. The book is divided into two sections. The first group of poems, entitled "Expecting Rain", forms a cycle. The cycle begins with a poem called "Rain", which, typical of the playful jutaposition of associations in these poems, refers to the British Columbia weather and to the writing of Apollinaire. The cycle moves through a series of recollections of events from the poet's life, a number of which are in the form of verse letters to friends. With an easy intimacy, the poems celebrate friendships remembered in the context of shared responses to art and literature.

The second section of the book, "Rambling Sign," also derives its title from a Dylan song. Here Scobie sets himself the task of writing a poem a day during a month that coincides with a trip to Scotland and Paris. This gives his scope for associations triggered by British Columbia where he lives, Scotland his birthplace, and the cultural heritage of Europe. Playing with ideas current in literary critical theory, he explores the idea of place as text. Although his is a poet's pilgrimage and he seeks out literary and cultural landmarks, friendships and family ties are part and parcel of the associations stirred by the places he visits.

Scobie is very self conscious about the act of writing poetry and delights in play on words and ideas. Yet his poetry is also lyrical. He speaks in one poem of "memory's music" and the songs of Dylan provide a fittingly musical context. A travelogue of the artist as a middle-aged man, these warm and witty poems will likely make readers recall with nostalgia their own literary friendships and cultural voyages.

Vivienne Denton, Toronto, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works