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Joseph McLeod

Waterloo (Ont.), Penumbra Press, 1990. 72pp, paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-921254-22-9

Reviewed by Grace Shaw.

Volume 19 Number 3
1991 May

Unfortunately, poetry seems to speak only to the educated elite who can grasp the allusions and abstractions. Truly poets write for the joy and challenge inherent in Grafting. And this man, Joseph McLeod, is many celebratory things: lover, environmentalist, cham­pion of the underdog and of justice. Some wonderful lines tell us he is a poet but many of the poems seem to be just words, a little disjointed or uncon­nected. The "Rim Poems" in particular are muddy and ambiguous, so I was startled awake by

live out
the impossibility of living
on any green level
In the frame of history left to us.

I much preferred the "Uncollected Poems," grouped by decade from the fifties, their messages much more definable. Tremendous variety and scope of topic adds interest too: human nature, mysteries of the sea and sky, Canada as devourer of ethnicity. Ironic, bittersweet, at times humorous, his best delights. The poems about the poets are winners. Read for a challenge. Let's hope he leaves a little less to our imagination next time.

Grace Shaw, Vancouver Community College, Vancouver, B.C.
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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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