I MIGHT NOT TELL EVERYBODY THIS: POEMS
Volume 10 Number 4.
Alden Nowlan disproves the myth that poetry, like fine wine, improves with age. His twelfth and latest book of poems, / Might Not Tell Everybody This, is, regrettably, not his best, yet it is still a finely crafted and notable effort.
Nowlan's ability to take the ordinary (often down to minute, specific, and highly personal details) and transform it into rhythm and metaphor, doesn't always work here; his everyday world remains the everyday world, and his poetry frequently borders on the trite and the cliched. One senses Nowlan is struggling. This is especially obvious in poems with punch-line endings, although he uses this device successfully in shorter poems like "A white book lies open" and "He." Like the straight half of a comedy act, the reader is set up and resents it because here the surprise that comes from subtlety and control is missing, as in "And Now the Good News," which ends flatly with the verse, "may they be fruitful/and multiply/ and continue to/replenish the ranks/of the CIA, the NKVD/and all other/regiments of spooks." Ho hum. Doesn't say much, and doesn't say it well.
And yet even at the worst of times (like the above) Nowland exhibits an uncanny knack for images and words that strikes home. I Might Not Tell Everybody This is flawed, but it is still enjoyable and noteworthy poetry.
Clarke, Irwin has also reissued Nowlan's only novel Various Persons Named Kevin O'Brien, a human, entertaining story about a young man's visit to his home town and his attempts to grapple with that past and with his self. In Various Persons, Nowlan uses both the first and third person voice, and not always successfully. But he does create memorable characters and places them in small-town situations that breed the emotions and the questions all children grow up with, regardless of where they grow up. More recommended reading.
donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, NS.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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