Cantos from a Small Room


88 pages
ISBN 0-919897-37-1
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Wayne Ray

Wayne Ray is president of the Canadian Poetry Association and author of
Giants of the North.


It is a pleasant surprise to read a book of poetry that remains glued to
its theme. This one, which centres on the death of a family member, ties
together the lives and loves of those within the “family”; one poem
follows the other like stream of consciousness with punctuation.

The book is divided into two sections: “Cantos from a small room”
and “Walking on wild air.” Hilles deals with the death of his
mother-in-law, and the time before and after this event, by delving into
the emotions and memories of all concerned: “Seeing you in your coffin
makes me want to / wake you and to make death return another / day when
crocuses are not blooming on the / hills behind the house”
(son-in-law, Canto 9); “She quietly passes my room several times
before / entering and I remember when I used to do that as a child / and
I am frightened” (granddaughter, Canto 11). In “Walking on wild
air,” the poet takes the reader from the hospital to the home. The
poems are lighter and of a broader scope, but maintain the themes,
memories, and feelings of the family from the Cantos series. Hilles is
an accomplished poet with six previous titles to his credit.


Hilles, Robert., “Cantos from a Small Room,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024,