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POETRY 29 Ireland, Ann. Exile. 298. $34.99 Johnston, Sean. A Day Does Not Go By. Nightwood. '99. $16.95 Johnston, Wayne. The Navigator ofNew York. Knopf Canada. 483. $37.00 Kerslake, Susan. Seasoning Fever. Porcupine's Quill. 320. $24.95 MacDonald, D.R. All the Men Are Sleeping. Random House. 349· $34.94 Martens, Oscar. The Girl with the Full Figure Is Your Daughter. Turnstone. '52. $16.95 McGrath, Robin. Donovan's Station. Killick. 202. $16.95 McPherson, Chris. Bone Island. Ekstasis. 240. $19.95 Miska, John. Blessed Harbours: An Anthology ofHungarian-Canadian Authors. Guernica . 248. $20.00 Moore, Lisa. Open. Anansi. 215. $24.95 Moore, Maureen. Not the Orient: Oberon. 156. $15.95 .Munroe, Jim. Everyone in Silico. No Media Kings. 241. $13.95 Mustafa, Sophia. In the Shadow ofKirinyaga. TSAR. 248. $18.95 Parameswaran, Uma. Mangoes on the Maple Tree. Broken Jaw. 223· $19.95 Paci, F.G.Italian Shoes. Guernica. 186. $15.00 Preston, Alison. The Geranium Girls. Signature. 240. $16.95 Ricci, Nino. Testament. Doubleday Canada. 456. $35.95 Richards, Harriet. Waiting for the Piano Tuner to Die. Thistledown. $16.95 Robertson, Ray. Moody Food. Doubleday Canada. 344· $29·95 Salutin, Rick. The Womanizer. Doubleday Canada. 323. $34.95 Schumacher, Rod. Habits and Love. Insomniac. 191. $19.95 Scott, Gail. Spare Parts Plus Two. Coach House. 89· $15.95 Smith, Russell. The Princess and the Whiskheads. Doubleday Canada. 110. $19.95 Soper-Cook, Joanne. Waterborne. Goose Lane. 184- $19·95 Swan, Mary. The Deep. Porcupine's Quill. 96. $16.95 Thien, Madeleine. Simple Recipes. McClelland and Stewart. 227· $22.99 Wright, Jane Barker. The Understanding. Porcupine's Quill. 189. $19.95 Wyatt, Rachel. The Last We Heard ofLeonard. Oolichan. 224· $19.95 Wynveen, Tim. Sweeter Life. Random House Canada. 426. $34.95 Poetry JULIA REIBETANZ We begin this year's review of poetry with Sheldon Zitner's magnificent new book of poems, Before We Had Words (McGill-Queen's University Press). Following Asparagus Feast (McGill-Queen's, 1999), Before We Had Words continues the feast and abundantly fulfils its promise. In these poems, 'pauses and omissions' are honoured, but the deepest credo is that 'words, too, maybejust, / if only in metaphor and indirection' ('Remembering Father and Son'). The dead are remembered, for 'Memory is the mother of the Muses': the poems revel in personal memories, celebrating those UNIVERSITY OP TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 73, NUMBER I, WINTER 200)/4 30 LETTERS IN CANADA 2002 'shadows ofrecollection, fictions growing outofotherfictions,' whichnow, 'unalloyed with circumstance,' become 'pure moments of unearned deserving' (Words across a Ouija Board'). In Zitner's voice,,the words themselves come out unalloyed - pure in spirit. These poems inhabit a plane beyond the glitter ofword-play and sound spectacle. They seek a vision 'unclouded / by context or connotation,' where 'too deep a glance, / or a glance averted, / canleave us speechless, / coveting that unlanguaged clarity' ('Before We Had Words'). If Wordsworth's shadowy recollections lie behind these poems, many of them are generated in memories of 'childhood's enchanted castle, / where we had hoped to live forever, / our royal parents' All-in-all.' But nature's all-in-all cannot now protect, and the poet inhabits the 'ruins' of 'love lost and love reclaimed' (,Love among the Ruins'). This recognition is sometimes brutal in its honesty: Or if death's mindless pity should erase all that, we'd love again as at the start: even our silences the heart-ta-heart of two made whole and one in each embrace then lose that paradise of wasted breath, dying a third and just as painful death. ('A Second Chance') At other times, the poems seem to taste their own contentment: I look up from that vegetable gold across the dinner table, to you who also nourish my content, and line by line this poem, bite by bite, clings to our good fortune like a sauce. ('Sweet and Wholesome as a Carrot') Zitner's poems keep the feast, while acknowledging that they must also bid it farewell: The corners of your eyes forget their luminous welcomes. What is devouring you has at last eaten your appetite. Not a crumb, not even from the feast of fruit and shortbread...


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