Playful and exquisite in equal measure

Way’s book of poetry seems aptly titled redirection, shifting as it does from spirited memories to poignant odes. His use of language – playful and exquisite in equal measure – is redolent with allusion and references to popular culture. Evocative content plays opposite syntactical panache, and asks readers to delve deep into their own psyches to interpret vibrant images. Most of the poems in the first half are written in a lyrical or conversational style, and the sonnets in the second are framed by epigraphs from Canadian prime ministers.

Reminiscent of e. e. cummings, the writing does not follow typical capitalization or punctuation rules, but smoothly guides the reader’s eyes across the text’s eclectic forms. There is a strong forward-moving rhythm in poems like “massacre at the metro: a ragtime tune”, and the shape of the text in “universal concrete poem” – a concrete block – immediately highlights the crudeness of its content. While the subject matter of “westview chapel on wonderland road” and “day fine but sky cloudy” is distinctly sombre in tone, poems like “prehistoric literary note” or “descent of species” showcase the author’s wry wit and sense of humour.

With vivid descriptions of local landscapes or musings on the ephemerality of experience, these poems share with readers thoughtful memories of Ontario. Their breadth and variety speak to the author’s diverse interests over a lifetime, yet also communicate a palpable sense of home.

- O. Gutauskas