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Sherman, Kenneth.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1987. 84pp, paper. ISBN 0-88750-698-4 (cloth) $19.H95. 0-88750-699-2 (paper) $9.95.

Adult / Secondary
Reviewed by Doug Watling

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

The Book of Salt is Kenneth Sherman's successful attempt to relate Jewish myth from the points of view of its principals. Sherman manages to make the narrators in poems like "Jesus Meditates upon the Mule" both mythological and real, no mean feat. In other instances, he dispenses with time, blurs the narrators, and lets a vision of the Jewish experience take precedence. As you might suspect, these poems can alter one's outlook on biblical history. This is Mary:

You can go doctor your texts.
You can keep your miracles.
While he laboured on the cross
I tell you I could smell his sweat.

Other poems, like "Abel," find Sherman working out his particular dilemma—how to make a legendary character come alive, how to re-create the truth out of myth. "Jonah," which is narrated from inside the fish, is one of many poems that accomplish both these ends. The taut writing and the tough, spare diction are perfect for the voices Sherman adopts. The Book of Salt demonstrates how an adopted persona can revitalize history and put the stamp of imagination on dreary fact. The applications of Sherman's approach are almost limitless.

Doug Watling, Halifax, N.S.
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