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White, Patrick.

Perth (Ont.). Anthos Books. 1987. 127pp. paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-920798-06-3. (Apple i'oet scries 3). Distributed by Anthos Books, Box 666. Perth, Ont. K7H 3K5

Reviewed by Pat Bolger

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

Orpheus on High-Beam is the sixth volume of poetry from Patrick White, editor of the literary journal Anthos. The collection is a generous one, with about fifty poems and two prose fragments (overly florid things which emphasize by contrast White's control in verse).

There are a number of traditional poems including the warmly affectionate "Elegy for Milton Acorn." Otherwise, White uses a freer verse form—patterned in three rather short unpunctuated lines —which demands effort and concentration from the reader. This form's repetitive effect underlines the scorn and anger in "If You Have No Talent" and "When I See the Expensive Indian Art."

"Song of the Parasite" and "On My Desk" are painful recollections of Childhood in poverty, suffused with love and admiration for his mother. The reader is not surprised to learn that White is a painter of considerable repute—the poems are rich in precise visual imagery: " a savage age honesty suffers a major meltdown/ and moles through the earth like a burrowing star...." A sharp observer of nature, he finds beauty even in ugliness: "the porcupine ... lies still in the broken phalanx/ of its softened spears."

This handsome book (published with the support and financial assistance of Apple Canada rather than government grants) will be very popular in public libraries. Although somewhat difficult for casual readers in high school libraries, it offers excellent resources for units on poverty and the problems of native Canadians, and. of course, to teachers of English and creative writing. Highly recommended.

Pat Bolger, Renfrew, Ont.
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