Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joyous News

Even though Canada has typically lagged behind the seminal literary movements the past centenary, the following linked article reveals a ray of actual light in a too-long theoretical tunnel. Just as retro May Parisian runway fashions juice the clothing industry, anachronistic elements -- people, physical objects, emotions -- may be a boon and a grace for literature this side of the Atlantic, too. (The hyperbole arrow's only at 90 degress.)


"The French are aware of their waning influence in world literature. For the most part this is attributed to the way critical theory has dominated literature from the 1980s on; put simply, French readers, brought up on the diamond-hard prose of Flaubert or Zola, or the musicality of Baudelaire or Hugo, were sick of theory and theorists, and the stodgy, indigestible and incomprehensible literature they inspired."


"a distinct resistance movement to theory has recently been gaining ground with French authors. The present crop of young writers are rediscovering the pleasure of writing to be read rather than studied."


The entire article below:


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Marilyn Bowering's green

green (2007) is, by my count, Marilyn Bowering's fifteenth book of poetry, two of which were nominated for the Governor General's Award.

Bowering has stated in the header to her blog, "Slow Books", that "It's become rare, though, for me to find books I haven't read that I want to read all the way through from beginning to end. Most books dissapoint [sic] after 80 or so pages."

The patience!

Here are some curious citations from her latest sure to make any contemporary poet green with envy.

"I listen to the trees:

what do they say
but green green?

At last I understand Lorca!" (p. 6)

"Remove this dress
and beneath that

the underdress
and beneath it

whatever you find --
I don't need it.

Then the skin,
layer by layer,

all bands of muscle,
and tissue -- whatever it contains --

lay it aside --
I need no protection:" (p. 12)

"The moon is round, like a lover's nipples --" (p. 35)

"What remains of the night?
Dark." (p. 36)

"It's better when I don't think" (p. 42)

"I'm wired end to end -- a flock of migrating birds

has found a short cut -- me -- to the other birds:
or maybe I'm empty space, a rare non-habitant,

the world's easement? Hello, hello -- do I know
any of you?" (p. 48)

"when I die, the day I lie down,
it will be with the poetry of night
layering the grass, swamping the lamplit windows

and beginning to come alive again,
like a stopped train
lifting its head
to contemplate a miracle." (p. 59)

"Ouch! everything hurts:

especially my eyes, near evening,
when the world is roaring pointlessly." (p. 62)

"Everything is as important as everything else:" (p. 64)

"I've taken off my clothes.
I want this to be natural. Put away your
Before I feel you sizzling in me,
I have to know your absence. Its presence
by absence, if you know what I mean." (p. 67)

"I'm naked: I'm full of ideas: I'm about to swim
out the window, graze in the grass
and sky,
move contrary to Nature. I don't know
what to do
with this passage of my soul through the night." (p. 67)

"My family -- mostly dead --
my lovers -- what can I say?" (p. 69)

"to live is to
think about the mysticism of cars" (p. 72)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jim Johnstone's Patternicity

A cavil to start, and a strong one: the title. Patternicity (2010), Jim Johnstone's second book of poetry, is pegged, according to Michael Shermer, as "meaningful patterns in meaningless noise". As themes go, this is an immediately arresting one. The problem is that serendipity, joyful chance and union, and creative diagramming are often, in the book, given the lyrical equivalent of plot-spoilers by the constant trumpeting of the title in the remembered background of the reader. Noise is a funny thing: the aural sense is our oldest one, the most primitive but also the most honest. Johnstone exploits this tragicomedy very well in places, violence vying with in-your-face beauty in a number of fine poems (more details in a bit). But the inherent thematic subversion of many images means pattern wins over wonder, which is a shame since I was on the edge of my seat for much of the book, but didn't need the metal safety bar after all. It's as if the author took a grant application outline to heart, and decided he needed to foreground the entire enterprise, as one often does in an essay with a strong stance.

Also, a contrarian could even say, by way of an ars poetica, that poems delight in making beautiful chaos out of humdrum order.

"Tithonus" is a good mythical critter in which to explore a desperation for meaning. All that time to figure out an incomprehensible fate. The rhetoric here is fine, controlled yet passionate ("I've watched/clouds tear" .... "I've steered/the unexpected"); a casual yet blunt, difficult statement comes unexpectedly though believably ("Love lasts a decade if you're lucky"); and the phrasing is tragically successful ("grind of roots").

One could do worse than seeing the two shortish prose poems, back-to-back mid-book, as polar responses to the problem of physical inertia and/or danger: action and escape ("Cliff Diving") and retirement ("Passing Through"). The former is the better poem since the anecdotal tension is matched by some excellent clauses ("the logic of our path is forsaken for clean speed" and "Depths reserved for leaded weights and worms"), whereas the latter reaches for a disquieting mood and ends up with preciosity ("The afternoon spreads out in fractals", and "the heat is a wasp's kiss, stitched octaves of venom").

"Rat Fink" is a terrific poem, and breaks out of its thematic box with some interesting shifts as well as some gorgeous and purposeful imagery ("an alterpiece of splintered milk bottles"). The relationship here, the "we" and "you", isn't delineated, and it works in adding to the menace. In other poems, though, the second-person and first-person plural voice creates an aura of vagueness when what is wanted is anchored and strengthened intimacy. Again, the poems could have achieved this, because Johnstone has the requisite talent to bring it off, but technical issues frustrate the vision. A few examples will have to suffice: ("where your finger's hints/line each pocket" from "Provenance"; "when you hold feathers in your teeth,/when you find the breath to laugh.//We were doing well before Saint/Thomas Aquinas named five new ways//to sin" from "Disgraceland".)

A few words about typos. Usually, I don't comment on them, but Nightwood Editions often takes great care in editing and presentation, so it may make the Romantic composer try to find a more pleasing pattern in the perverse "Where Schubart glimpsed madness", unless the line is taken as a literal posthumous reaction. Likewise, "stagger back into it's former prints" must have made the author understandably irritated, even if the formulation originally issued from his pen or computer. Writers sometimes spend a day or more on a choice between leaving out or including one punctuation mark; a few extra minutes of edits should've made this a non-issue.

An uneven book, but a recommended one. I hope Johnstone's next collection is "spread out in fractals" or various unified but wildly unpatterned singularities.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Margo Button's Heron Cliff

Margo Button's Heron Cliff (2007) was published by Signature Editions in Winnipeg. The author thanks the [Vancouver] Island poets (acknowledgement section), as well as her three main or sole editors, Marlene Cookshaw, Brian Bartlett (cousin), and John Barton. The 32 page sequence which concludes the book, "Blue Dahlias", in an edited version (for contest parameters) co-won The Malahat Review's Long Poem Prize for 2005. The Malahat Review is, of course, one of Canada's most respected literary journals. Other poems in this collection were accepted (in slightly different forms) in other leading CanPo publications.

I go the introductory, seemingly surroud-sound, route for a reason which I'll elaborate on later. But first, another set-up before moving to the poems. On Dec 31, 2009 at this forum, I said I'd be providing fewer negative reviews since I'd come to my senses by saying "no" to reading entire books of bad poetry. When the first three bites of an apple are rotten, there's no point in being a masochist by devouring the rest and adding to an already flowering gut-churn. And if I haven't read a book at least once front-to-back, I don't think it fair to offer even a mini-review of it. Also, life is short, and there're a lot of them thar other words still waiting to be courted and fawned over. But as I turned the pages of Heron Cliff, my exasperation increased with my incredulity, and morbid curiosity and disbelief propelled me to the end.

As soon as page two in the book (the first and title poem) appears this sequence or stanza:

"Friends wonder why I remain in a house
tainted by suicide. The long dance
I perform: allemande left, allemande right,
dos-a-dos with the dead."

Button's first book, The Unhinging of Wings, dealt (supposedly) exclusively with her son's death by suicide. I haven't read the book, so won't say any more about it. But a mother's understandable obsession with such a horrific event, and the compassion it should generate among anyone, reader or acquaintance, doesn't cancel the fact that the same reader is not affected in the same way, and (unless the poems are outstanding in ways beyond their emotional impact) that reader also holds the understandable position that other subjects and metaphorical directions -- if not outright obsessions -- would be warmly received. And as the page-matter accumulates like dead wreathes, the same graveside visitation is made again, and again, and again.

As the repetition grows, the circle of grief closes tightly, and the reader (certainly this one) is excluded. Personal grief needs a colurful array of lyrical feathers and/or a jackhammer powerhouse of rhetoric to surmount the perils inherent in trying to bridge the secret journal with the international journey.

But what's even worse than this is that Button not only flips to the suicide segue from natural indicators in autumn's moribund images, but -- like Evelyn Lau's latest poetry collection, reviewed here a half-year ago -- uses other shocking human events as a set-up for the main meal, which is ..... you don't need me to finish the sentence.

The following is taken from "One Cry":

"From the cliff house, I hear a siren,
watch a rescue team scurry across the sand
to a cluster of people
out of their element"

Eight lines later, we have:

"I cosy up to/someone else's death."

But we're not finished. Same poem, different event:

"One day in Mexico I saw a yacht explode
-- swirling flames in the bay"

and in another five lines:

"a cry keens around the cove,
vibrates in me like a tuning fork."

Now it may first be pertinent to point out that these are dead lines, and are representative of much of the book. This is journalistic jotting combined with diary anguish. But however cathartic this may be for the poet, the reader is again mislead and manipulated (though all art is manipulation, there're good and bad ways to formulate that). The reader realizes that the drownings and explosions aren't there for their own dramatic autonomy or poetic possibility, but are simply plot devices in allowing the higher waves and flames to catch and (the author's hope) overwhelm.

But there are still greater transgressions. Amplifying the same procedure is "Gardener Teapots". The subtitle marker? "Sept. 12, 2001".

Well, nothing like telegraphing the subject, especially when the bland anecdote successfully disguises the parallel for sixteen lines. So much for suspense.

"Gardener teapots ....
.... made in Russia
under Peter the Great,
lugged by camel caravans
over the Silk Road to Pakistan."

Oh, the proud beneficient trade corriders! But it's almost time for the money shot and the Hallmark denouement:

"-- birds in the air, fish in the sea,
and the world did not end
yesterday in New York.

When the pots broke,
menders salvaged the jagged bits,
bound them with copper lugs
and sealed the cracks with tar
so they could again brew tea."

3,000 murdered and transatlantic turmoil, but hey, the sun will rise again! I'm only surprised that the suicide wasn't directly introduced at some point in the poem.

The blithe arrogance of writing this the day after (even if it were written years later, the date stamped makes it plain the emotions and conclusion were born Sept 12) is mind-boggling.

On to the book's final poem, "Blue Dahlias", which, again, co-won a prestigious CanPo prize. "Blue Dahlias" is supposedly "ghazal-like", according to the back cover. But this is mistaking form for emotional creativity and integrity within difficult subject and tonal shifts. The poem fails miserably at this, and the failure is magnified because Button hasn't learned how to write an adequate floating, quasi-free verse poem, so why should a quality ghazal-like poem be a reasonable goal?

"The big bruiser orders me to move my car
parked in front of his house. Says he's a cop.

So? I'm a poet. A raging granny too.
It beats depression or medication."

Oh, the insouciance! Unfortunately, I don't believe either of her self-identities.

"According to Zen, one must learn the spirit -- kokoro --
of each plant and rock before placing it in the garden."

According to poetry, one must learn to choose the right word
and then surround it with flavourful words in just the right places
so the garden sustains both planter and picker.

And according to Zen, those who speak, know not, especially when it's third-hand.

"Poets should be poor and lead simple lives."


There's the cleaning and polishing, the insurance,
the alarm system, the misgivings. All that weight."

This is the cringe-worthy spectacle (not uncommon in literature) of Oak Bay-touring retiree gaining Romantic frissons by imaginary slumming. Thomas Merton is often admired, seldom emulated. "All that weight", indeed.

"I yearn for landscapes reduced to essentials.
The Arctic. The desert. The soul."

When people speak of getting back to "essentials", it usually means they wish to shrink from the world's confusion and complexity. We're all guilty of it to varying degrees, so in a strange twist, I'm grateful for the reminder, unintentional though it may have been.

Why bother to kick a book like this, goes the usual argument. Surely, if it's as lousy as you depict, oblivion will do its just work. Because the sheer weight of the stuff these days makes it truly difficult -- even for one on the lookout -- to discover much of the good stuff. And just as problematic, reputations do sail along for quite a while on the unearned boost from friends, family, and event community pointed out in this review's preamble. The teeter-totter analogy, introduced in a different context in Heron Cliff, comes to mind.

Margo Button has produced a book that seems to have exorcized a lot of personal demons. I'm very happy about that. But an appropriate close may be to quote her herself, again from "Blue Dahlias":

"I treasure the copy of Moliere's Comedies, published in 1760.
Doesn't mean it's valuable, said the antiquarian."

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Timely Jon Stewart Corrective

From today's blog posting by James Howard Kunstler:


"Imagine the fright mask that the Sofitel Hotel maid's face turned into when a black swan in the form of an international banking poobah waddled out of the suite's bathroom with wings rampant. Black swans appear now in the unlikeliest places. I bet you a million Euros that Dominque Strauss-Kahn's lawyer will say that his client was driven mad by relentless, revolving, unresolvable thoughts of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain, and that he mistook the hotel maid for Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou."

Link above for the rest.

Jon Stewart

Just clicked a Harriet link to Jon Stewart. Couldn't find the "Tone Deaf Slam Poet" episode they thought worthy to point out, but I surfed the Stewart backlog for 15 minutes and ended up viewing a 9 minute "humour" monologue on Newt Gingrich's announcement to run for U.S. president via Twitter.

At a dinner last night, I argued with friends about the relative merits of U.S. comedians, left or right dimensions. I've long held that most political chuckle-gatherers have no concern, and little talent, for humour, creative or ultra lowbrow, that they cynically target-market their audience and smarmily project their unfunny tags as a cover for the faux group hug and self-importance of simplistic political statement. It's that heady feeling of contributing to the cliche of the week, only they believe they're shaping it, and it ain't a cliche. That's why I respect -- and actually laugh with -- comics like Jay Leno (or I used to until he overstayed his welcome) who take the accepted caricatures of their targets (sex-crazed Clinton; verbal bumbler Bush Jr.) and spin a never-ending supply of jokes on the same theme. There's no attempt to swing a vote, and there's no pretense of being a respected political pundit. Maher or Miller, it doesn't matter what side of the divide they mock. But back to the Stewart episode.

His message (I'll get to the putative larynx-tighteners later) was that Gingrich should get real and forget about being hip by going the new media route, that it was pandering to the young, that anyone knows he's a "square", and "a policy wonk". Well, as his man has been in the White House for some time, dispensing charisma in moving his head side-to-side reading teleprompter scripts created by others while his country continues, and increases, the same policies engendered by Bush, one would think that a little less image and a little more policy wonking might be in order. The further irony is that Stewart is likewise pandering to the young by speaking for and to them, aligning himself as one of them. Besides, a lot of people I know, and who are as old or older as me, watch the guy, so maybe age and coolness aren't much of a factor in Stewart's show. Maybe he's "cool", maybe he isn't. But what that has to do with current big government madness escapes me. (A lot of funny gags could be creatively powered by Gingrich's philandering, but the Clinton parallels are perhaps too close to home, and/or maybe they figure in other sketches.) I guess the circle will be complete when they have a smirking, ironic presence as the chief figurehead. Oh, wait, Obama already supposedly appears on Oprah and Rosie O. Just one of the guys. Third-term senile Juan Peron became a "square"; similar policies are often conducted by different personalities.

As for humour, this episode was particularly unfunny, the laughs generated (though the punch line words were deleted online) solely by exclaiming "fuck" as adjective, noun, or verb where it was entirely superfluous. This has been a long-running staple of comedians, both political and cultural, for decades. To reference Leno again -- "where's the joke?".

The horrific take-home in this: an increasing number of citizens are now acquiring their political info -- chiefly if not entirely -- through the medium of T.V. comedy. That isn't just speculation: it's experience in talking with a range of viewers who have ready opinions and feelings on topics the media promotes at the expense of many others which for various reasons don't sell to living-room consumers.

There's nothing wrong with combining humour and political commentary. I enjoy it when done wittily and creatively. But Stewart et al fail on both counts, much like a lot of political poetry, and for the same reasons.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Barry Dish's Avocado Love

This kitchen sink book of poems does the cliche-slight proud as it is about a kitchen sink. The first-person aluminum cupola alternately sings and moans in Barry Dish's Avocado Love, and the results are striking: "I accept the sludgy waste of your bowels, O tomato paste!" and "Foul dispenser of unwanted guts, the casserole's detritus hang at my drain's uvula" are just a few lines that will rivet the reader in suspense and disbelief.

Some poems, true, skirt mawkishness when the family is away and the sink grows bored enough to elaborate on its passive pensees: "I, the receptacle, accepting anything and everything/Rust in this corner, dark and damp when the plug is stuck".

Not to everyone's taste, perhaps, but Dish's pleas are brave interrogations into our many loveless kitchen hypocrisies, the lemons often dominating the sweet basil and the cupcake.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Craven Aura's I Am A Tree

"I, subsumed in the air
with dragonflies and dander,
breathe in non-ego, broach
a feeler on the wind's tail."

These are the opening lines from "I Am A Tree", Craven Aura's book-length poem of the same name. The reader's imagination is fondled by way of a cheap shopper on the same bruised spot of an otherwise healthy apple. Whither wind? And wherefore lies the verdant toil? The tree isn't named, but as generic trees go, it does have a personality of sorts if one can call the consistency of abstract pining a hook to hang a gust on. I Am A Tree won the Arbuscle Memorial Award for Poetry last year, and with it, a coupon (in lieu of cheque) for a reduced-rate consultation with an arborist in how to release your tree from its mall boulevard coffin.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Joe Denham's Windstorm

Windstorm, Sunshine Coaster Joe Denham's 2009 effort, is more ambitious than his first book, both organically and philosophically. I think the integration problemmatic at times -- (the desire to mount the pulpit is indulged a little too often for my liking: "so the mind's flow forever eddies//there where the voices crossed over, contrapuntal/to our dissonant array.") -- but (in the same sequence) he gains a greater victory by expertly trading the anecdote with the overview in a believable and seamless interplay.

Lyrical virtuosity is lovely, with its hidden scaffolding for the most part supporting the strong rhythms, and is cleverly exploited. Most pleasingly, sound isn't offered in a poverty of release, but echoes with other sounds in many other lines, fore and aft. However, like any creator drunk on the gift of those assertions, Denham occasionally runs away with the ball when (for example) consonantal giddiness overwhelms: "cupreous and inculpable through the clouds/and we are/carried forth to the expectantly/cadenced conclusion./Our collective collusion." (There are indents in the original.) As in other places, Denham's good ideas are defeated here by the procedure, though the reverse is often true of many poets, who display impressive polish, but have little to say. There are, though, many patches in this lengthy five-verse sequence when the two unite to form exquisite lines: "Sappho's/sweetapple, efflorescent in the unexpected/the unaccustomed white, perches bird-/like in song, as sunrays cloud-split."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tom Zimmerman's The Horse That Over My Green Shoes Asserts Its Power

This train-chain of lyrical cargo chugs across blocky stanzas with such force it's easy to miss during a first read-through that the message is less than complimentary to its ostensible paragon. One code will have to suffice here:

"Forget going gentle into that cold grave
Unless your rage upsets the chaplain.
Consider those who live on and suffer.
Kin and strangers will muffle your virtue,
Denying any closeness, denying their debts,
Those liquid and future when eulogies track maudlin.
Hand back your will with major renovations
On forty minor points, and note well the notary
Miming like a dormant dentist.
Answer to no one but tend to your molars
So the grind of your life lives on on the page."

Tom Zimmerman may never acquire the rapid bibulous ascent of the reading-tour virtuoso, but The Horse That Over My Green Shoes Asserts Its Power is nevertheless a powerful reminder that imitation is the sincerest form of servitude.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Don Knightly's The Big Bang And Beyond

No, this isn't a 942 page account of an orgy, but an exhaustive and exhausting epic from time zero to Justin Bieber. Though the tome's tone frequently matches its physical weight (my copy caused three Canada Post operatives to file for compo during its transport), there are touches of whimsy and wit scattered throughout, all the more effective because of contrast, and not least for the difficulty of sidling up to "sweeping fire of God's neglect" with "Samuel's efforts not worth a peep".

Clunky in rhythm, so verbose it'd put Foghorn Leghorn to shame, The Big Bang And Beyond, Don Knightly's Hindenburg ballast is the first in a trilogy, the volumes to come concentrating on a thousand page Canadian day-in-the-life response to Joyce, and a final five thousand page speculation on life and death from 2016 to 2843 at which point the world will apparently physically instigate Nietzsche's eternal recurrence thereby necessitating -- yes -- the same show but in different words from this tireless documentor.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Marguerite Pigeon's Inventory

The objects in Marguerite Pigeon's first book of poetry, Inventory (2009), are given moderately searching attitudes and often quirky personalities, so as such projects go, it's an entertaining and breezy read. The (mostly) banal subject/object matter is titularly arranged by the alphabet to emphasize the democratic nature of the endeavour. No hierarchy of significance, which unfortunately means no hierarchy of mood, pressure, statement. Poems are mostly in third person (from "Bicycle": "City cruiser, ghetto low-rider, banana seat/with tinfoil rainbow streamers."). An exception is "Pancreas", and it's the best in the volume. The first person (or first organ, if you will) allows Pigeon the room for emotional development, and the poem unfolds in continuous surprise and complexity, the personality imbued with a wise care for harmony, yet devastated by loneliness and lack of received love and appreciation: ("The Islets of Langerhans./Exotic, but no one visits."). Par for the collection, though, are revelations which aren't convincing or rivetting, no matter that many "Hair Dryer"s are occasionally (one would think) countered with a "Cunt", where "I feel the shame and exhilaration of keeping company with such an eccentric, independent relative." Contrast this, for example, with Sharon McCartney's object poems in The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder in which the objects overspill the pages as unpredictable, even dangerous, creations, both universal and highly individualistic, lit from within.

I'm left feeling that Pigeon is -- however sensitively -- struggling to complete an exercise and it's one more reason (of many) why the project book, dominant in today's poetical procedure and landscape, is (with many fine exceptions, of course) a wrong turn for poetry in general.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Claire Croissant's Missives And Mistakes

A multi-organism free-for-all, Claire Croissant's exploration into the shallowest recesses between sentience and new academic creation, Missives And Mistakes, nevertheless manufactures chaos into what it means when peoplehoods on unintelligible matters commit those clever thoughts to page and book thereby adding to the understandable apprehension that when one goes under, more and many are soon to follow. (Cassandra was a gutsy gal, but her response was questionable.)

So: "verities of maple, freshets of vowels, tumblings of inexactitude parade in a quandary" meaning that maple is maple, vowels aren't fresh in this case (lower or upper), and full marks for fearless self-analysis.

Objectivity is used as contrast. We're treated to found fact, and newspaper phrases float on a theoretical stew like violin string on stagnant pond water, ripples occasionally altering the sheep gut letters from an infrequent, feeble wind: "while we shift categories and accept the lessons, fulminating a word misconstrued and egocentric, the 40,000 dead in Turkey submerged in a crime of consumerist vocables". Check, and checkmate! Onward, avant soldiery.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stan Ormello's Byways And Pixie Dust

A day and a month late, but I'll do two in one day at some point in the month. Yes, that's right, it is (or was) National Poetry Month, and we all know what that means. The Burgeoning Poetry Blogosphere, the Cottage Presbyterian Sentinel, and the Ladies Home Journal all grit their teeth before smiling fixedly and trotting out the Poetry-as-Buckley's-Cough-Syrup routine. Trouble is, usually the hawking of blissful ignorance is much preferred to going along with the undisturbed breath patterns of the smooth set with nothing to say, or the unmodulated noise of interesting story-tellers with a notion of craft as barge or rotting raft.

First up is a gateway book by Stan Ormello. Unfortunately, the gateway here may lean more to freebasing airplane fuel than to Ginsberg or Greville. His Byways And Pixie Dust covers a lot of ground if you equate circling a high school track a hundred times as a fascinating journey. Let's open the pages.

The initial poem is also the title poem, always an indicator that the poet WISHES TO MAKE AN IMMEDIATE AND IMPORTANT STATEMENT. And that statement seems to be: though there be bombs and bad men, sports colour commentators and retro beehive hairdos, there'll always be a song in the heart and a spring in the step of anyone lucky enough to be privy to the glib lozenges of "here the running hare and the placid lake conjoin", which, despite the author's best intention, had me wishing to dive into those still (and deep) waters to rescue that imaginative animule whose brief-hour-and-heard-no-more fate was quite a bit different than that of canny Bugs. Alas, bunny of aborted byways: your past tense foredoomed you. I throw a carrot into your watery cairn and pray that no one takes this review as persiflage.