Storm Dancer


103 pages
ISBN 0-920544-97-5
DDC C811'.54






Reviewed by Roger Nash

Roger Nash is a philosophy professor and author of Night Flying.


Wayne Keon writes as an Ojibwa, drawing on a magical and imaginative
sensibility shaped by his tradition. He seeks to link arms in poetic
empathy with the great lost cultures of Mexico’s past, and to speak to
the 20th century’s technological and urban society, in which he is a
financial analyst.

The poet achieves a remarkable interweaving of old and new worlds in
“sorcery and power.” An astringent colloquial vocabulary creates a
sense of a spiritual and magical power that can be experienced but not
articulated, particularly when it dwells in the inanimate. Another
remarkable interweaving of cultures is achieved in “another form of
art,” which tersely explores the concept of waiting in the esthetic
dimension. Beauty can be experienced only when we renounce the bustle of
everyday purposive activity. There is a fundamental cross-cultural
parallel here with the thought of the French mystic and philosopher
Simone Weil.

Keon faces the challenge of all poets who choose colloquial simplicity
of speech. In everyday life, the situation provides a tacit context for
unpacking meaning from words. Can the poet bring this context to life in
the poem without losing simplicity of speech? In “to teotihaucan,”
general description by unqualified nouns is unable to support the
attempted empathic identification with an awesome Aztec past. Other
poems talk about experiences and realities, rather than create them;
“for sarain stump,” to give an example, reports rather that invokes
a magical invocation of spirit animals.

The book ends with four beautifully told Anishnawbe prose legends
concerning the search for people and homeland in a resurrection of
one’s psychic and physical powers. Here Keon changes roles from
culture interweaver to Ojibwa magician–host, inviting other cultures
into the world of his stories, which heal with a universal theme.


Keon, Wayne., “Storm Dancer,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024,