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Edited by Karen Mulhallen. Erin (Ont.), Porcupine's Quill, c1984. 221pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0.88984-061-X.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Anne Locatelli

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

This is a book full of surprises, in which poetry and prose alternate in various lengths and forms, grouped together according to theme. The themes are all related to travel and provide the titles for the six chapters, as well as forming strong links between the selections, which are presented in an attractively original arrangement. "Views From the North," the title of the first chapter, opens with a series of refreshing poems by Robert Kroetsch, Daphne Marlatt and Paulette Jiles, followed by an excerpt from George Johnston's journal, kept during a visit to the Faroe Islands in 1967. In "Echoes of Return," we relive all the sadness of Hiroshima through the eyes, heart and poetry of Roy Kiyooka; we embark on a journey of discovery to Sam Solecki's ancestral land, moving briskly with him, through the Poland of John Paul II and Lech Walesa in 1983. The romance countries are visited in "Romance Languages." Jane Urquhart takes us back in time, with a rather strange re-enactment of Robert Browning's death in Venice in 1889, at the age of seventy-seven. With Antanas Sileika, we travel to legendary Spain with the sanctuaries and devoted pilgrims of Sahagun and Santiago de Compostella; with Virgil Burnett, we enjoy the tranquil beauty of France's countryside. The Middle East and Africa follow in "More Holy Lands." Gwendolyn MacEwen tells vividly about Israel and Egypt, both of which she has visited in her travels; Earl Birney contributes a poignant poem of the Sahara, "Cry over Aswam." The book continues in the same vein with descriptive selections on India, Nepal, Tonga, China and Brazil by such distinguished Canadian authors as Rosemary Sullivan, Robin Magowan and Ken Norris. Poetry selections by Michael Ondaatje and Karen Mulhallen add to the richness of this varied anthology.

Well-placed illustrations complement the selections nicely; they are black and white, and are mostly reproductions of the authors' photographs taken during their travels. Another positive feature is the attractive cover of the book, done after a watercolour by Kay Graham, entitled "Algonquin/82."

This anthology is more than a collection of travel stories and innovative poems. The individual authors, each in his or her own way, look with critical eyes at the distant lands they have visited and at the different customs they have encountered, raising questions for the reader. Many of the authors seek their roots in their own ancestral country. Most of all, this is a book of people. The characters encountered and described are often unforgettable, although some of them are more congenial than others. The beauty of an anthology is that it offers something for every taste and mood.

Views From the North is a good addition to Canadian collections in school libraries; it is also an excellent choice to keep handy on your coffee table for relaxed, casual reading, or to give as a gift to a friend.

Anne Locatelli, Elliot Lake S.S., Elliot Lake, Ont.
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