canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

An All Day Fix 
by Ed Shaw 
Thirteenth Tiger Press, 2000 

Reviewed by Kathy Shaidle 

This slender volume, Shaw's debut collection, offers a number of sincere, deeply felt poems. His main themes are his reluctant farewell to childhood and the subsequent unwelcome encroachment of "the real world." In a poem of the same name, Shaw's Big Brother-ish speaker tells an ageing grown-up that it's "time to hand in your hair." A well turned, and -observed, phrase; unfortunately, few of Shaw's poems contain similar witty, sophisticated lines. 

"The Real World" is a brave poem in the sense that it rhymes. Shaw is to be congratulated for daring to attempt this unfashionable form. He is on to something here, and may wish to consider exploring the form further, by experimenting with, say, a different sort of line break: the end of a line needn't necessarily be the end of a sentence. 

Don Coles is the finest (English language) practitioner of modern rhyming poetry, single-handedly raising such verse above and beyond the Hallmark level. Shaw may wish to look to this acclaimed Canadian master for further inspiration. Shaw is rather given over to prosaic overstatement, "telling" rather than "showing." And being a female approaching middle age, I no longer share Shaw's evident fascination with skulls, "disintegrating coffins," excessive alcohol consumption and clichéd apocalyptic landscapes. 

I would be interested in seeing where Shaw's talent leads him, when he is a little older and more widely read. 

Kathy Shaidle's first poetry collection was shortlisted for the 1998 Governor General's Award. Among other things, she hosts the weblog, "where the religious rubber meets the pop culture road."







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ISSN 1494-6114. 


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