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Review in the Canadian Book Review Annual

REVIEW: Monks' Fruit

A.J. Levin’s debut collection of poetry promises — and delivers — good things. Levin mixes current and classical images and references in such a way as to invest even the most serious subjects with a touch of humour.

The collection is divided into four parts. “Old-Age Benefits” features mixed classical/historical/current metaphors and comparisons and characters as diverse as Plato, a gold-rush prospector, and Freud. In “The Show to End It All,” Levin makes brilliant use of mundane things (e.g., “The World’s Largest Cabbage Moth Collection” and “World’s Oldest Toast”) in order to make far loftier statements.

In “Baby Beef,” he does the same thing using food-related topics. Finally, “Monks’ Fruit” is a miscellany of ideas that concludes with a poem called “Ancestors” in which Levin speaks to all North American ancestors in a low-key yet profound manner.

There is something so easy about Levin’s poetry, even though the subject matter is far from simplistic and the subtle meanings become more apparent with each reading. His style does not follow any traditional format, but his use of classical imagery juxtaposed with modern situations is delivered in a greatly polished form. It is a refreshing way to look at life.