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bissett, bill.

Vancouver. Talonbooks, 1987. 128pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-88922-247-9. CIP

Reviewed by Don Precosky

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

Animal Uproar is pure, distilled vintage bissett. There are chants, concrete poems, drawings, social commentaries, irregular spellings, short stories in verse, wit, humour and love. It is everything I expect from bissett, yet it is not predictable.

A new element in this book is a kind of mid-life sadness that permeates many of the poems. bissett has often been angry, rebellious and outrageous, but never sad and sombre in the way he is here. In "star minrs vancouvr" he is at one and the same time Dean Swift praising the individual but despising the group and Hamlet wondering at the magnificence and absurdity that dwell side by side in the same creature. In "redeeness" he again reminds me of Hamlet, this time contemplating the question of "ripeness." Are we ever ready for life? Will we ever find stability in relationships and success in careers? Similar worries about impermanence emerge in "empires cum n go," in which he muses on the transience of all things, from empires to individuals.

These new worries and fears signal a movement from the lyric to the philosophic, a sign of bissett's maturation as a poet. But all is not gloomy in this volume. bissett is still capable of beautiful poems of affirmation such as "smiling spirit we sing to yu." Animal Uproar is a fine collection.

Don Precosky, College of New Caledonia, Prince George, B.C.
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