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Elizabeth Brewster

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1990. 109pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-978-0 (paper) $11.95, 0-88750-797-2 (cloth), $12.95.

Reviewed by L. Maingon.

Volume 18 Number 6
1990 November

Spring Again is not a mere collection of poems by one of Canada's major poets. It is a book of well-crafted poems that purport to be cantos, united by the author's anxiety to find meaning in life, which meaning she ultimately asserts. The simple narrative structure of the thirteenth poem, "The Story," belies a far more challenging degree of complex­ity. If the model in 'The Story" is Dante, read through Pound's Cantos, Brewster gives the reading a new twist by playing her feminine reality against the chaos of Pound's — and Dante's — masculine world.

Pound, who is echoed and referred to throughout the collection, first as the berater of the irrational "minor poet" Yeats and therefore also of the minor Canadian "poetess" Brewster, once remarked that his cantos could never be finished, unlike Dante's, because he did not live in the splendour of western civilization but in its fragmented remains. Brewster, while recognizing this fragmentation throughout her cantos, finds unity in more feminine aspects of life.

These cantos are the fruit of her anxiety to give meaning to life after retiring from her very successful career as a professor of English at Saskatoon. The collection begins with menial images of unity. The anxiety of age and retirement calls for the need to return to the certainty of cycles that assert continuation and life, such as menstrua­tion, gardening and love.

Spring Again is an excellent collec­tion of Canadian feminist poems, which can only enhance Brewster's stature in Canadian literature.

L. Maingon, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.
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