________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number . . . .February 17, 2017


The Hobo’s Crowbar.

JonArno Lawson. Woodcuts by Alec Dempster.
Erin, ON: The Porcupine’s Quill, 2016.
89 pp., trade pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 978-0-88984-399-8.

Subject Heading:
Children’s poetry, Canadian (English).

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Inderjit Deogun.

*** /4


In The Hobo’s Crowbar, award winning children’s poet JonArno Lawson presents a collection of poetry that’s equal parts clever, honest, moving, nonsensical and powerful. And, in crafting such an expansive collection, he may well change the attitude young readers have towards this literary form.

Exits exist
Entrances too
Look and you’ll find them
In all that you do

     Playful rhyme and whimsical wordplay may be at the forefront of readers’ minds after a first reading. But, a second and deeper look of The Hobo’s Crowbar will reveal Lawson’s incredible clarity of life. His poignant reflections shatter our individual perspectives and illustrate the larger workings we often don’t see at play. This forced pause is an opportunity to look at the occurrences of life with fresh eyes, making it abundantly clear that there can be more than one way of viewing just about anything.

‘Never,’ said
‘Can special exceptions be made
For the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”.’

For the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’
Can special exceptions be made?
Never said.

     Accompanying Lawson’s poetry are woodcuts by artist Alec Dempster. Every original woodcut captures the essence of each accompanying poem. Some are as whimsical as the corresponding poem while others, like the one for “You’ll Learn Not to Mind”, are deeply moving. When needed Dempster’s woodcuts bring a greater understanding to Lawson’s words.

In come the oceans
Out go the mountains
Volcanoes erupting
Like soda pop fountains

Souls of our ancestors
Rose up and swirled
To watch from the moon
At the end of the world.

     The Hobo’s Crowbar holds within its pages a challenge to take a closer look. Dare to do so.


Inderjit Deogun is a communications professional in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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