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Victoria (B.C.), Bill Stenson and Terence Young
1992. Number 1. ISSN 1188-5086. One-year subscription (two issues) $10.00 plus GST, two-year subscription (four issues) $20.00 plus GST. Distributed by The Claremont Review, 4980 Wesley Rd., Victoria, B.C. V8Y 1Y9.

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Valerie Nielsen

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

In a preface to this first issue of The Claremont Review, the editors express their hope that this journal will provide a literary vehicle for the voice of the teenager, and that the stories and poems appearing in it will be of a calibre that denies the label "student writing."

On the whole, this anthology, composed of eight pieces of fiction, forty-one poems and two line drawings, fulfils this hope. The poems are often powerfully sensual and filled with vivid imagery. They express what most of us would consider a distinctly "adult" (rather "young adult") point of view and emotional tone. In Liz Hindles' poem "Visitor," the feelings of invasion and damage that come as a result of a love affair are poignantly sketched in anatomical terms. Jessie Senecal's poem "In the Garden" describes a mother obsessed with her garden, her second home. The truth of the mother-daughter relationship surfaces in the last line of the poem: "She wishes I would live there too." Megan Adams' powerfully understated poem entitled "Still Air" describes a moment of truth for a six-year-old player of war games:

At this moment, I hear him
on the back porch, knee cut,
his breath tight clenched, discovering
the truth for himself.

Jody Petford's poem "The Sliver" compares a relationship gone bad to a sliver:

You were the sliver
in my thumb
Red and Swollen
As poison,
You infected

Less successful than the poetry are the pieces of prose in the anthology. Most are of the "snapshot" variety of writing, and all are in the ubiquitous present tense, which modern authors seem to prefer. Only Sara Baade's "Art Lesson" would qualify as a piece of fiction with well-developed characters, conflict, crisis and an ending (if not a resolution). It shows the author has great promise as a short story writer. Jenny Danahy's "Tangled Stars Are Glowing," presumably a suicide story, is marred by an unclear point of view. Jaimie Cordero's piece entitled "Now I Can See the Leaves" turns out to be a character sketch of a wonderfully original young woman called Summer. This brief selection leaves the reader hungering for a full-blown short story with Summer and narrator centre stage.

It would be a shame if so much talent and hard work were to be overlooked by those who read and teach literature. A subscription to this journal is definitely appropriate for senior high (grades 11 and 12 in particular). High school librarians would do well to bring the journal to the attention of English teachers in their schools, for, as those involved with creative writing are well aware, there is no more powerful a motivator of students than the writings of their peers.

Valerie Nielsen is a teacher-librarian at Acadia Junior High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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