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by W.H. New

W.H. New, who holds the Brenda and David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies at the University of British Columbia, has written more than 30 books including Science Lessons, his first book of poems, which was released in 1996.

Raucous is the name of his latest collection of poetry, and while the dictionary defines raucous as “hoarse, rough, or harsh in sound,” New’s collection is anything but.

New combines his knowledge of geology and other aspects of the natural world with commentary on our emotional universe. His themes of exploration, discovery, desire, and disillusion are subtly evoked in the collection’s 45 poems. For example, “Into the Woods” deals with exploration of nature and the irrelevance of high-tech gadgetry or man-made order on spiritual direction: “shoulder the pack take the first step outside the map / the compass useless here.”

“Copperplate Hand” conveys a sense of beauty and a yearning for a simpler time when “spode / limoges names tell one story / cultivation / victory / the one called progress.”

New’s images and his brilliant language imbue his poems with the ability to temporarily halt the rushed city dweller into quiet reflection. But lest the reader think this an easy walk in the woods: there is nothing sentimental or facile about New’s vision; he does not go gently into the realm of poetry. The reader has to work hard to decipher the layers of meaning, but at the end of the journey there is a dazzling array of colour and a sense of seeing nature in all her majesty for the first time.


Reviewer: Irene D’Souza

Publisher: Oolichan Books


Price: $14.95

Page Count: 60 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 0-88982-175-5

Released: Sept.

Issue Date: 1999-8

Categories: Poetry