Cover Makes a Set


60 pages
ISBN 0-919957-60-9
DDC C811'.54






Reviewed by Chris Faiers

Chris Faiers, winner of the 1987 Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award,
is author of Foot Through the Ceiling.


This clever and quirky book is the daily journal poet Blades kept while
working as a photocopy clerk in an architectural firm. Its text and
layout complement each other while providing parallels with Blades’s
often antagonistic roles of poet and breadwinner.

The poems—a mad jumble of significant words, phrases, puns, and
slices of life—are printed in upper case. On the right-hand margin of
each page, an architect’s title block serves as a constant reminder of
the daily job. But the rigidly formal title blocks have been filled with
weird corporate seals and bizarre and meaningless designs.

The best way to understand the poems is to read through them as quickly
as possible, letting the meaning reveal itself. This way the reader
races through endless cups of coffee, bus trips, an ammoniac work
environment, friends and fellow artists. The reader has to make sense of
this endless juxtaposition of images, sights, sounds, smells. An octopus
appears mysteriously throughout the book—is it pet or dinner?

This book is one of the best and most honest evocations of what it is
like to be a worker and a poet I have read. A number of Canadian poets
have made careers out of speaking for the working classes, but few have
done real labor for decades.

The effort the book requires from readers is repaid many times over by
Blades’s mischievous humor and insights. A unique work from a unique
and fascinating young poet.


Blades, Joe., “Cover Makes a Set,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,