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Charles Noble

Saskatoon (Sask.), Thistledown Press, 1990. 63PP, paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-920633-74-9. CIP

Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up
Reviewed by Ian Dempsey.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

A naked woman takes leaves of our
suckers a shore of a never-can-tell
of all the nerve on the nearer canal

These first lines from the first poem are difficult enough to slow you to a crawl, but if you make it even half way through to lines like this -

a progress/within reason
to conceive: a semantic shrink the
long succession
to Minima Moralia pace the Prisms'

you will be reeling backwards.

In puzzling through these poems, I have had the advantage of the publish­er's notes, which describe this as "a vast network of resonant allusions" and "the most advanced critical and philosophi­cal concepts." There are no such hints included in the book for the reader. Some of the word play comes alive if you read it out loud (echoes of Finnegans Wake) but the meaning is just as elusive as in Joyce's book. Stylistically, Noble seems to be trying to avoid the linear use of language, in favour of a web of words radiating out to trap a multitude of meanings.

These poems have the crazily connected images of a disturbing dream. Even when the images from that dream world do not translate well from the dream world to this one, the emotions should, and the emotions might be a clue to what is happening. The release of anger and so on might be good for the poet and his private meaning. But trying to "read" and digest another's dream can be boring, even with a dash of strong emotion thrown in.

Ian Dempsey, Cambridge, Ont.
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