canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Light industry - Humourous and satirical poems 
by Seymour Mayne
Mosaic Press, 2000

Reviewed by Joanna M. Weston 

A light insouciance characterizes Semour Mayne's verse, a sense of movement forward to other things, that the poet is touching down with a quick glance, a comment on the world and its foibles before flying off to other, possibly better, places. His use of heavy words - 'pendulous,' 'supplicants,' 'retainers' and 'mollusk' - in his satirical poem 'At the Dairy Queen' give weight to his footsteps as he passes through, but he is on the move, not to be caught. The same sense of activity and flight occurs, appropriately, in 'All Souls' Anti-Salts: A Hallowe'en Fantasia' as 'Leaves lurch down the streets/ between the ghostly/ children's feet. ... Each flutter of flame/ from the fleshly gourds/ streams into a kiss...' ephemeral and lightly felt. 

Some of the poems, 'This Time,' 'Bigfoot Advisory,' 'Golden Boy,' and others, were apparently written in response to jokes shared with particular friends and there is in sense in which one is left out: we weren't part of the original scene. There is an intimacy with the poet that we are unable to share, an atmosphere missing, whether it be the smokey room, friends with coffee mug in hand, or casual encounter on the street; we seem to just miss Mayne as he disappears from view, trailing laughter behind him. 'Garden of Eden' -'With no/ tenants in sight/ the place/ proves/ less attractive/ for speculation' - states the case very well. 

Mayne's barbed comments on dentists, funeral parlours, politicians, as in 'M.P. on TV' - 'Will he ever open/ a smile deeper/ than those shiny teeth?' - are pointed and entertaining. Yet there is a kindness, a twinkle in his eye, as he reflects on Burns' Day - knowing what haggis is made of, one can only smile at his 'organic haggis'! His poem 'Ichthyopoesis' is well tangled with such variations on the word 'ichthyology' that any lexicographic student would thoroughly appreciate. 'The Fantasy of the Chickpea' is an amusing frolic through taste, space, mysticism and pun, as in the closing lines: "the cloven pita of our earth and heaven/ surfaces with surfeit, humus's hummous!" 

He uses alliteration, onomatopoeia and other word-play with skill and enthusiasm throughout these poems, which were written over a long period. This is a book for browzing in idle moments, a book of quick insights and wry humour. Enjoy. 

JOANNA M. WESTON: born in England; married to an accountant, Robert; 3 sons, one daughter-in-law, 3 grandchildren, two cats; has a green thumb and an enlarging garden. M.A. from the University of British Columbia; appears in several anthologies; published in Canada, U.S.A., U.K. etc. for the past 15 years in magazines such as CANADIAN WOMAN STUDIES, CHIRON REVIEW, DANDELION, ENDLESS MOUNTAIN REVIEW, SPIN, WRITER’S OWN MAGAZINE, GREEN’S MAGAZINE, etc.; reviews poetry. chapbooks: ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES, 1987; CUERNAVACA DIARY, 1990; SEASONS, 1993; ALL SEASONS, 1996 (2nd edition 1997).







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