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Topic: Luke J Frenette

A Lifetime Spent Scratching: We Were Like Everyone Else by Ken Victor

Ken Victor’s We Were Like Everyone Else is his first collection of poems. “A Lifetime Spent Scratching,” the first section of the book, carries the weight of Victor’s rabbinical assertion that men generally fall short of the mark. This mark is established in his first poem, “The Discovery Of Mouths,” which is set in Eden, where satiation and communication are second nature to Adam and Eve. The couple bathe in delicious, ripe fruit, like plants basking in sunlight, and they converse using telepathy. They have not discovered their mouths because they have no need for them. Victor uses his hyperbolic version of the Genesis story to simply say that “those early days” are over and that men, in particular, need “Freud” to deal with their debased minds, and gossip to cope with unhealthy relationships, and they, of course, suffer hunger as a symptom and metaphor for their physical and spiritual malnutrition.

Looking In, Looking Out: The Gods of East Wawanosh by Marilyn Gear Pilling

Marilyn Gear Pilling’s seventh book of poetry, The Gods of East Wawanosh, comprises two sections. The first (I) emphasizes the book title, following the wayward, messy, traumatic, and poignant lives of one farming family through several generations in East Wawanosh, Huron County, Ontario. The second (II), “The Lives That Surround Us,” takes the reader in a different direction, focusing globally, the poems distinctive in scope and temperament.

Light through the Trees: Dark Woods by Richard Sanger

Dark Woods is the third offering from Toronto poet Richard Sanger. The collection is deeply honest and somewhat uncomfortable in its portrayal of a dim, ordinary life touched by momentary excitement and its processing of aging, parenting, and mortality. While the book’s language doesn’t deny there are extraordinary moments in life, it doesn’t give way to them: life is confined, limited to what might have been, or may still be. There’s no obvious aspiration to live beyond the shadow of the trees.

On the Road Behind: André Narbonne’s You Were Here

In his book, You Were Here, André Narbonne deftly tracks his past. His memory process is reliable without being overly, and boringly, explanatory. It skilfully cuts around, rather than trudges through, images and events from his former years spent in Southwestern Ontario. At times, Narbonne recounts in indefinite terms. He recalls holding an older sister’s hand and receiving vague advice from his father who urges him to remember plain “sounds” like, perhaps, the songs he and his sister left “on the road behind.” It’s on this road, which begins during the first poem, “Our Tintern,” that Narbonne nimbly passes through memories of his childhood and adulthood, avoiding temptations to poke and prod along the way.