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Review in the Toronto Star

As a West Coast aboriginal person, Philip Kevin Paul brings his own aesthetics, based on oral tradition and his culture’s worldview, to Taking the Names Down from the Hill. . . . this first book shares [Canadian poet Alden Nowlan’s] understated wisdom.

Paul’s approach resembles the trees that he admires for their ability to ‘grow outward and remain uncomplicated.’ Many of his poems reach into difficult emotional territory - coping with the loss of both his parents, struggling to hold onto the language and traditions of his heritage - but they have a quiet grace and unwavering clarity. His work won’t wow you with effects, though there are occasional lyrical flourishes (‘a clearing on a steep hill that leans the weight of an entire/ world against the mind.’); its power is in combining simplicity and depth.

In one poem, Paul describes relying on his father’s help to build a fire: ‘sometimes I keep/ trying until I get it right, other times he stops his saw to show/ me with a magical fluency of his hands: four balls of/ newspaper, cedar, maple . . .” Paul has his own ‘magical fluency’ with plain materials, and he also draws on wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation . . . an assured debut.”

-Barbara Carey, Toronto Star