________________ CM . . . . Volume III Number 6 . . . . November 15, 1996

cover Calm jazz sea.

Mike Barnes.
London, ON: Brick Books, 1996. 85 pp., softcover, $12.95.
ISBN 0-919626-85-8.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Review by Willa Walsh.

** /4


"To the Spider on My Coffeemaker"
Hunkered in your corner
yet every morning
I brush away your silk to make
my black water. Laying waste
your plans I begin
mine. For a time I thought you
stupid, or deluded:
I am far too determined,
far too large for your
hollow tooth. Now I know
you suffer from another kind
of innocence, placidly
going about your building while
I dream, never guessing
you have strayed into another,
far stickier and stronger, web.
Night after night
we forget in tandem.
Calm jazz sea is a book of poetry that captures the essence of everyday life with all its varied experiences and contradictions. The events portrayed are universal to the human condition from loss of love, death, accidents, restrictions in our lives, and failures to the enjoyment of nature and the wonder of living things like butterflies, goldfish, and spider webs; and the simple pleasures of our daily routines. These are quiet, reflective poems which gently probe human nature.

space Unfortunately, I read this book right after I had finished two outstanding poetry volumes: Tim Bowling's Low water slack, and Gregory Scofield's Native Canadiana: songs from the urban rez. Both of those titles so overwhelmed me that, perhaps, I could not give this book my full attention. And, since both Low water slack and Calm jazz sea use the imagery of fishing, I was constantly comparing them. Calm jazz sea suffered with the comparison. I simply was not powerfully engaged by it and, therefore, feel that this title may not fully engage student readers either. My feelings are reflected by the pallid, sepia-toned cover of the book.

space The curriculum connections for this title are English literature at the senior level and Creative Writing courses in the upper secondary grades.

Recommended with reservations

Willa Walsh is a Richmond, BC teacher-librarian and senior editor of the provincial professional journal The Bookmark.

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

Copyright © 1996 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