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Dalton, Mary
St. John's (Nfld.), Breakwater, 1989. 80pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-920911-73-0. CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Ian Dempsey

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September

There is a poem on page 57 that begins, "now is the time of icicles." Ten lines, no title, and no clue to help the reader tell the "time." The title of this volume of sixty poems is taken, perhaps, from this little poem. But why?

This is a first book of poetry and the poet hops here and there like a child at play. There is no reason (or rhyme) to what she touches and talks about. She tells us about strange old men of Newfoundland, old clothes, things that happened long ago in England, things she saw on TV, people who visit from the mainland, dandelions, trees, school, foreign lands, her old home, friends and enemies, her father and mother, hens, things only she understands, herself.

And we admire someone who can be carefree and unconscious of what others think. We are willing to let her think that she is

dancing grinning among clowns
a song so vast it
pulls your world down.

She tells about everything that happens to her in unpretentious, nearly innocent lines. A little peevish now and then. A poet has the freedoms of a child and we have to try to listen and give her room to grow.

A little too undisciplined for some? Most poetry is "free verse" now. She is from Newfoundland but is not island bound. She has studied at universities in Ontario and in England, and she is an editor and a teacher. What she says is, in most cases, interesting. The way she tells it sometimes hinders, sometimes enhances her story.

Ian Dempsey, Cambridge, Ont.

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