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Kenneth Sherman

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1989. 96pp, paper, ISBN 0-S8750-769-7 (cloth) $21.95, 0-68750-770-0 (paper) $10.95

Reviewed by Ian Dempsey.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

Where do the sadness and sense of loss seep from in these poems? Is it from the past days, which were so much better, or is it from the fact of being an adult who has settled on poetry as an attempt to be somebody, knowing that it does not count for much (a poet "unac­knowledged in this dim outpost, this province cold, soulless")?

Kenneth Sherman writes about Jackson's Point and his dead summer cottage days there north of Toronto. He gives us all the small details, the rustlings, the glimpses, with such care, it is difficult to tell if it is with love or regret. Slow, precise doodles left by an idling mind and idle hand:

On the glinting hook the torn eye
drooped -
a fleck of dirty grey. I could feel the
perch's breath,
the soft cream of its underbelly
as it lay, flat and yellow in my palm

Where is the boisterous fun of sum­mer at the cottage? That should come through as well. Are all of our Cana­dian poems created by sad observers rather than by fun-loving participants in life? As examples of precisely labelled and listed memories unobscured by similes and other literary overlays, these poems are good. We should be grateful for anyone who tries this sort of archae­ology.

Part Two is more contemporary - the poet up to date - but still with too many memories, sadness, and even a return to Jackson's Point. The patient digging drags us down.

Take the trip to Jackson's Point, but take along in your luggage your own joy.

Ian Dempsey, Galt Collegiate Institute, Cambridge, Ont.
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