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Ken Mitchell.
Madeira Park, BC: Nightwood Editions, 1990.
63pp., paper, $8.95.
ISBN 0-88971-068-6. Distributed by Harbour Publishing, P.O. Box 219, Madeira Park, BC. VON 2H0. CIP.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Pat Bolger.

Volume 19 Number 1
1991 January

Teenagers are unlikely to be impressed to learn that Mitchell is a professor of English, founding editor of Grain, and author of fifteen books; their admiration will be stirred rather by his vivid recall of his own youth in many of the poems in this collection, and they will find "The Catholic Wars," "Loft," "Poem for a Graduation Banquet," "Coming of Age," "Incident in Michigan", "Winter" and "Last Game of the Season" appealing in their familiarity.

Young males who find little connection between their lives and poetry are likely to be most pleasantly surprised by the last three of these. Young readers will sympathize readily with the social outcasts portrayed in "Bruce," "The Witch" and "The Idiots of Greece." And all Canadians, teenagers and adults, in these post-Oka days should read "The Nile," in which Mitchell uses the historic battles and campaigns of the Nile Valley as a counterpoint to the Battle of Batoche in the Riel Rebellion. The Metis spirit is vividly conveyed in blunt colloquial speech:

We would of made pemmican outta them
but all we had then was handfuls
of gravel to load in our rifles.

The collection also includes some translations of Chinese poems and a few richly descriptive pictures of Greece, which may appeal more to older readers.

A highly recommended resource for English teachers and for students who "have to read some poetry."

Pat Bolger, Renfrew, ON.
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