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Helwig, David.

Ottawa, Oberon Press. 1988. 83pp, cloth. $19.95, ISBN 0-88750-719-0.

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Volume 17 Number 3
1989 May

These latest poems by Helwig, a seasoned poet, are well set out with plenty of space in a handsome quarto volume. The effect gives weight to the terse lines, in which Helwig establishes place and action with economy.

A number of poems (including the title poem) arise from a visit to China. The eye observes; the images are summoned up and laid cleanly and separately on the page, delicately evoking ideas. Even where anecdote or argument starts the poem, the action, story or moral is most lightly stated. When these images are anchored to a concrete name or situation there may come a pleasurable shock of recognition for the reader, as when the lines ...the winter sky is clear and bright blue and everyone is rich smooth and happy. Identify the city of Toronto in contrast to Beijing.

Helwig strives to let minimal elements of image, tone and statement do the work and purges explanation. China is a set of images. This will suit the creative reader, the student who can be satisfied with tone, colour and allusion; it may dismay those who like to know just what is being said about what, right now.

Alan Thomas, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
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