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Leila Pepper.

Windsor (ON), Black Moss Press, c1984.
63pp, paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-88753-115-6.

Grades 12 and up.

Reviewed by Donalee Moulton-Barrett.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

Potential. It is the one word published writers hate to hear, but it is exactly what is reflected in Leila Pepper's first book of poetry, Caught in Amber.

Many of Pepper's poems say very little. They lack depth. There is a distinct picture of Pepper hunched over her notepad, or typewriter, trying too hard.

A secondary, but just as irritating, flaw is the rhythm of many poems. For no seemingly apparent reason, spaces are placed between words on the same line. This detracts from the forcefulness of the poems and makes them awkward to read. (This is also something a good editor should have dealt with.)

Not all of Pepper's work is so overburdened however. Much of her poetry is evocative, smooth, and right on target. Take for example, "Two A.M.:" I would like to say it/differently for you/use crisp unusual words/combined with sharp images/but my Latin-trained mind/wants clarity and simplicity/dear Mary hail and farewell.

The difference between success and failure (or near success) in Pepper's work seems to be her subject matter. When she writes about events and people close to her heart, the poetry is strong and passionate. When she deals with issues instead, the poetry lacks punch. The best that can be said, in these cases, is that they show potential.

Donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, NS.
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