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Cook, Gregory M.

Charlottetown, Ragweed Press, c1985. 87pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-920304-42-7. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Tony Cosier

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

In this collection of poems, Gregory M. Cook links a universal to a private subject. He scans the width of the influence of the Second World War by exploring the personal impact of his father's death as a young soldier in Holland.

The text is integrated so well with the supporting illustrations that one suspects the author was closely involved with setting up the layout and design for Ragweed Press. Family snapshots cross generations the same way the poems do. Pictures and poems focus on the same symbols. A map shows where Cook's father died and a telegram announces his death.

The poet considers the Nova Scotian environment that his father left behind. He introduces us to the grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren of the deceased and relays their vary ing attitudes toward the war. To extend the contrasts, he travels to Europe for a symbolic walk through the battleground and shows us a cross-section of European views. As a final balancing factor, Cook spends several pages studying the character of his stepfather, to offset the sustained focus on his father.

With the exception of an eight-page surreal collage centred on a Pinocchio figure scrambling obscurely through the wreckage of war, these poems are clear and conversational. The most significant factor is the careful laying down of tone upon the subject. There is no relish in the sensations of war here. Nor is there whining or shaking of fists. What Cook delivers constantly is a muted, open-eyed respect for both the living as they carry on, and the dead as they lived.

Tony Cosier, Confederation H.S., Nepean, Ont.
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