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Edited by Patrick White. Perth (Ont.), Anthos Books, 1987. 59pp, paper. $7.95. ISBN 0-920798-07-1. (Valley Poet series 4). Distributed by Anthos Books, Box 666, Perth, Ont. K7H 3K5. CIP

Reviewed by Don Precosky

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

Open Fires is a seriously flawed book that never fully recovers from a disastrous opening. Marchand sleep-walks through the first twenty pages, offering the world cliché-ridden thought in lifeless verse that runs the gamut from mediocre to bad.

Then, suddenly, the book picks up dramatically with two excellent poems, "Solstice" and "Smelter." The former is strong on mood, evoking the indignation felt by locals in a resort town toward vulgar tourists. The latter poem is a well-rounded descriptive poem with echoes of the nineteenth-century Ottawa poet. Archibald Lamp man:

July's unrelenting heat
turns the street to a smelter.
Birds flee to the shelter of eaves,
cicadas refuse to complain.

The rest of the collection is marked by energy and clarity and ends strongly with the "African Triptych" sequence, which combines firm description with moral concern.

Unfortunately, a bad first impression is difficult to overcome. What we have here is two-thirds of a book.

Don Precosky, College of New Caledonia, Prince George, B.C.
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