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Dudek, Louis.

Montreal, Vehicule Press, 1986. 144pp, paper, $9.95. ISBN 0-919890-72-5. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Volume 16 Number 5
1988 September

Louis Dudek has edited and published many poets in his years as a proponent of modernist poetry in Canada. A full life of literary achievement has also included the writing of works of criticism, years of teaching in the English department at McGill and—a remarkable personal story—the sustaining of public interest and perhaps of life itself in Ezra Pound during that poet's eclipse and confinement.

Dudek's own work has appeared somewhat rarely, and his poetic reputation has largely rested on the long poems he published in the 1950s and 1960s. Now at the age of seventy he has brought out a sizable collection of short lyric poems entitled Zembla's Rocks. The phrase may apply to the northern termination of the inhabitable world or to the land of the idealizing imagination. The content and arrangement confirm that the book should be read, in either case, as a gesture of departure by a man who believes in making his preparations in due time. In a brief preface he asks the reader to regard the poems as “the trace of someone who 'once existed.’"

Leaving aside this display of the stole spirit, the collection is really very appealing. Dudek has his views and he also has a controlled touch. For the most part these poems are gracefully turned comments on a world that bothers him considerably and yet still has taste for him. Many of these remarkably accessible poems, plain in language and clear in thought and feeling, will undoubtedly find their way into anthologies of Canadian verse still to be made.

Alan Thomas, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
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