Trade Customers click here
← Back to Book Main Page

Toronto Star Review

Toronto Star: PLEASING TO THE MIND AND EAR, April 22, 2001

Nowadays, poetry is more often seen than heard. Consequently (or coincidentally) much of it seems written for the reading eye rather than the listening ear. But words are sounds, not just shapes on a page. In these new poetry collections, Toronto's Ken Babstock and Edmonton's Tim Bowling remind us how powerful and captivating those sounds can be …

Darkness And Silence, Tim Bowling's fourth collection, is made of slightly sterner stuff. It has a melancholy, elegiac feel (even in a row of jack-o-lanterns, he sees "the long look of death") but a robust style. A native of the West Coast, Bowling worked for a time salmon fishing. Intriguingly, the muscularity and slipperiness he ascribes to salmon is also true of his poetry. His language is sensuous, but his focus is the elusive "enigma of the ordinary."

Bowling expertly wields the traditional tools of the aural poet's trade, namely rhyme, alliteration and assonance ("boxcars of coal soot junked / in a puddled field of culled spuds"). He's even occasionally old-fashioned in his diction (he uses "o") and unabashedly concerned with deep feeling. "We are all garrotted by beauty," he writes in one poem.

Like Babstock, Bowling can trans-form reality in startling ways. A mundane domestic task ("Washing The Dishes") is the gateway into a memory of slaughter on the fishing boats: "the floorboards'/ slush of moonlight darkens to blood/ as the house is unmoored." …
Bowling's elaborate language is what makes Darkness And Silence compelling. For a poet with such rhetorical powers, overdoing it occasionally seems simply a minor occupational hazard.

—Barbara Carey is a Toronto writer and a CBC Radio producer.