CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Sutherland, Fraser.

Windsor (Ont.), Black Moss Press, c1986. 64pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 01-87437-148-2

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by donalee Moulton-Barrett

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

Fraser Sutherland has been around, literally. He has visited, or lived in, ten provinces, twenty-three states, and thirteen countries. And, like his "geographical biography," Sutherland's poetry is all over the map.

That has its advantages and its disadvantages. Sutherland has not found one style aptly suited to his message and so he provides readers with a variety of form and structure. Likewise, the content is a diverse collection of thoughts and statements that are reflected in personal anecdote, family history, impartial observance, and philosophical meandering. A look at the poetry titles alone makes this quite clear: "Entries in a Diary," "The Absent Father," "Ezra Pound," "My Late Uncle Orville Dusenberry."

Sutherland's poetry is strongest when he recounts, and revitalizes, his reality; when he is plunk in the middle of the poem, not stiffly off on the sidelines trying too hard to figure out exactly what is going on and in the process wow the reader with profound poetry. Frankly, that does not work.

What does work are poems like "Telling Me," about a visit to the interior of British Columbia and the assortment of very real characters that focused the trip. There is the chubby, cornered Indian girl about to blow her head off, the furious feminist shouting, "You don't understand the anger!." a blond gamin glad to be off the merry-go-round and the other daughter, Tracy, who "seat-belted in back,. . . sighs her message to the absent:/It's such a miserable business isn't it, Mama?" It is also, with Sutherland at his best, a memorable business.

donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, N.S.
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