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Doug Turner

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1990. 74pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-833-2 (paper) $10.95, ISBN 0-88750-832-4 (cloth) $21.95. CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up
Reviewed by Alan Thomas.

Volume 19 Number 5
1991 October

The world of work is an area that gives a poet plenty to talk about — boredom and ignominy in the ware­house, hair-raising danger out on the clear-cut. Doug Turner does not of course seek to celebrate work but, rather like Hemingway on war, to honour the working man's life by indicating its pressures. The approach finds its natural expression in laconic short lines where toughness and tenderness may find voice without looking like rhetori­cal self-display, an offence against the code.

Turner is evidently more versatile, and more literary, than might appear from the majority of the blunt-spoken poems in this collection. These hidden resources are revealed as he breaks into a long line and phrasing, for him almost rhapsodically verbose, in "Super," a poem which instantly calls to mind Ginsburg's similar poem on a California supermarket. And lo! Ginsburg appears in the aisles, just as Whitman does in the Ginsburg poem, to the complete satisfaction of followers of the line of romantic democratic-radicalism in poetry. It is an honourable tradition with a proper place in a land of work such as Canada and appears to be maintained most purely on the west coast. Turner provides a handy instance of its continuing vitality.

Alan Thomas, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
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