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Edited by Allan Safarik. Winlaw (B.C.), Polestar Press, c1986. 197pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-919591-06-X. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Tony Cosier

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

With the Vancouver Centennial Commission sponsoring the notion of Vancover Poetry and the Expo Pavilion as a playground for its promotional reading, editor Allan Safarik has been able to present his informal social history and literary montage in an ambient context.

Safarik frames his anthology with brief notes on contributors and a prose survey sketching the general trends in Vancouver's poetry circles through the changing decades. The poems are arranged chronologically so the reader can trace the development from the early years of the Vancouver Poetry Society, through New Frontiers and Tish to the present.

The reader never loses sight of the social context. A formal group photograph of the 1926 poetry society members sets the tone. Facsimiles from illustrated poetry society chapbooks continue the pattern. Lionel Kearns' poem, "Birneyland," brings the pattern into more recent times, depicting a day of frolic for poets who eat breakfast and lunch and romp and make love before settling into their breezily conceived poems on Earle Birney's porch near suppertime. In another poem, Joe Rosenblatt and Milton Acorn stroll through Stanley Park chatting casually about the sex lives of the animals they see. A poem by Acorn about Red Lane faces Lane's poem about Acorn. And so on.

Safarik has made several predictable, but sensible decisions. He features recognizable place names and covers the landscape with mountain poems and coast poems full of boats and slugs and seagulls. He includes poems touching on the harsh treatment of Japanese Canadians during the thirties. He draws substantially on those two major breeding grounds of Canadian poetry, university faculties and the industrial writers' unions. He has several pages of selections from the most prominent literary figures in the region, featuring such poets as Birney and Dorothy Livesay and bill bissett.

Tony Cosier, Confederation H.S., Nepean, Ont.
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