CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Potrebenko, Helen.

Vancouver, Lazara Publications, 1987. 7lpp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-920999-06-9. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Barbara J. Graham

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May

One selects carefully any addition to the library resource centre's poetry collection. Readership is usually small unless curriculum-related assignments occur regularly. Recreational readers of poetry usually fall into one of two categories: a reader who wants to choose a short book for supplementary reading or one who has discovered that poetry has special things to say to those who have a certain type of sensitivity for listening. These characteristics need not be mutually exclusive. Appealing to both kinds of reader, Potrebenko's poetry will have special meaning for young women who may be able to empathize with the issues the poet espouses.

This second book of Potrebenko's poetry should serve a multiplicity of purposes. It is accessible to the average student. The language is simple, direct and free of high-flown imagery and symbol that could discourage the younger reader. Potrebenko is very much of the people: she is a typist and office-worker with vision who wonders about her role in an increasingly technological society. Her sense of the ridiculous, a nice ironic touch, and her concern for people add warmth to her portrayal of, for example, a young woman who earlier dreamed of being a jogger, a trucker or school teacher until she realized she could be a typist or bookkeeper, or another young woman who has travelled far to move from the raspberry patch to the Manpower queue.

The book has multicultural perspectives. Of Ukrainian descent, Potrebenko moves into the heart of an old Ukrainian who worked on the railway from the age of thirteen, who was considered a refugee in Russia, who was an artist with embroidery, and who is now considered a Canadian prairie pioneer, but who remembers the slights of long ago. There is a concern for the old in more than one poem. Much of the poetry has, as well, a feminist tone. This volume provides a basis for the study of attitudes and will enrich discussion in history, family studies, business and literature courses.

Of course the poetry is also political in its concern for women's rights, human dignity, and workers' rights and responsibilities.

Life, love and unions make up the book's internal divisions. The poetical choices for inclusion are thought provoking as the author concerns herself with the pain and joy of "living," a "love" that embraces her humanity, and "unions" that provide a practical and political union of the first two concepts.

The poet's love of music manifests itself many times in choruses and songs that add a sense of innate gaiety to the often bitter and ironic message.

This small volume would be a useful addition to our collection of Canadian poetry.

Barbara J. Graham, Board of Education for the City of London, London, 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