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GIVING BACK DIAMONDS

Marilyn Bowering.

Victoria, Press Porcepic, c1982.
Distributed by Beaverbooks.
95pp, paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-88878-2004.


Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by donalee Moulton-Barrett.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.


"Disturbing and quietly original," "wild magic," "haunting in its implications," "lines as fresh as summer lightning." These are only a few of the ways Marilyn Bowering's poetry has been described. They were accurate then, and they are just as accurate a description of her latest work, Giving Back Diamonds. But then so is "difficult," "choppy," and "pretentious."

Most of Bowering's work is first class. Poems, like "Gains and Losses" are moving and substantive. Lines, like "friends move like shadows on a curtain/and we are alone, despite the planning" say it alló and so much more.

This is typical of Bowering's style: understated yet punchy. It does not always work, however, and when it doesn't, the poetry sounds forced. It condescends: it's blah. The collection opens with just such a poem, "Giving Back Diamonds." Here Bowering attempts to take cliches and through them mirror the pain of failed love. She does not succeed.

Poems like "Giving Back Diamonds" stand out in this work like a sore thumb. They do not compare with the high quality of Bowering's best poems, which deal strongly with pain and darkness, the search to understand the whys of life. And the why nots. Bowering shadows all her poems with death. It is a reflection that lingers long after you have put the book away.


donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, NS.
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