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Florence McNeil
Lantzville (B.C.), Oolichan Books, 1991. 198pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 0-88982-113-5. CIP

Grades 9 and up/ Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Pat Bolger

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

Readers of Swimming out of History will wonder why the Can Lit anthologies largely ignore McNeil, who published five volumes of poetry between 1972 and 1979: Walachin (Fiddlehead, 1972), The Rim of the Park (Sono Nis, 1972), Emily (dark, Irwin, 1975), (McClelland & Stewart, 1975) and A Balancing Act Selections from these and two dozen or so new poems make a generous collection of work from a very fine poet.

McNeil delights in the act of seeing and carries the reader with her into the frozen world of old photographs or the days of early movies. Predictably, she also writes effec­tively of art and artists, from medieval illuminations to Emily Carr (in the ten poems selected from Emily). She deals ruthlessly with social pretension in "The Halfmoon Bay Improvement Society":

Mrs. Pringle who...
bulldozed a hill of hippies
is in the chair
the pressure of her stare freezes crows
into silence…

Young adult readers will recognize the mixture of love and embarrassment in family poems like "Society Notes: An Old Photo" or "My Grandfather's Hornpipe" with its family Christmas scene enlivened by the elderly dancer, "his legs unsettled with ladles of whisky and gravy."

This collection will be well used by students looking for poems on themes such as family, war, social justice, and the environment - and by those who simply enjoy poetry. Handsomely produced and priced to fit the leanest budget, it is an exceptional choice for high school libraries.

Pat Bolger, Renfrew, Ont.

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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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