With Issa: Poems 1964-1971


124 pages
ISBN 1-55022-146-9
DDC C811'.54






Reviewed by Thomas M.F. Gerry

Thomas M.F. Gerry is an English professor at Laurentian University.


Many terms could accurately be applied to Ball’s writing: slight,
quiet, minimalist perhaps. The so-called poems’ brevity is not in
itself a fault, but their tendency to be wordy yet vacant even within
their usual compass of five or six lines certainly is. “Spring” is
typical; here it is in its entirety: “Spring does / as the verb
describes // little shoots / of plant life // springing up / all around
us.” If that effort is childish, at least it’s not as pompous as
many of the other “poems” here. “A Present”: “A present ‘to
write poems’ / a new pad of lined paper. // The lines run to the edge
of the page / and wait there for me // to make them / encircle the
world.” Why this book was published is a mystery. Its only remarkable
feature is that on its back cover, among some glowing comments
(presumably by friends) appears the following accurate characterization
by Eugene MacNamara: “How can this nonsense be dignified with such
terms as ‘language revolution’? Or ‘concrete’ or whatever? It
isn’t writing. It’s typing. It’s crap.”


Ball, Nelson., “With Issa: Poems 1964-1971,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/11890.