Ver­tex / Ver­tigo

Chap­book, John Oughton, 24 pgs, big-pond-ru­, $10

Broken Pencil - - Zine Reviews -

Ver­tex / Ver­tigo presents its au­di­ence with an in­ter­est­ingly Canadian vi­sion. Some of the po­ems play with stereo­typ­i­cal Canadian images and con­cepts. “For Mr. Hockey,” is a trib­ute to Gordie Howe and to Death, “in his black and white stripes.” There’s a dark sense of hu­mour that play­fully un­der­cuts these ref­er­ences, which might be rather bor­ing oth­er­wise. And yet, there are also works that pos­sess a more se­ri­ous tone. “Grey Sky,” for ex­am­ple, makes no at­tempt to blan­dish its skep­ti­cal tongue: “this sky scrubbed of vari­a­tion, sug­gests we can start the whole / hu­man thing over, delete thou­sands of years / of wars, abus­ing women and chil­dren, / de­stroy­ing na­ture / Be­gin again, Fin­negan, / with the clean­est slate. / But we won’t.” Take it as a blan­ket con­dem­na­tion of moder­nity (post- or oth­er­wise), or as a cri­tique of Canada’s self-right­eous neo-en­light­en­ment at­ti­tudes, mythic worlds of­fer no com­fort. “It’s the same old world, and we / are no bet­ter / than yes­ter­day.” Over­all, Ver­tex / Ver­tigo of­fers per­spec­tive when it wants to, while other times it sits back and snick­ers from the side­lines — er, penalty box. (Jeff Low)

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