Schooled in Salt


80 pages
ISBN 0-9685339-9-X
DDC C811'.6




Ronald Charles Epstein is a Toronto-based freelance writer and published poet.


Leif A. Vaage was a British Columbia boy who became a Lutheran minister
and moved to Lima, Peru. Now he is professor of New Testament at the
University of Toronto’s Victoria University and its Toronto School of

Schooled in Salt is his first poetry book. Its second section,
“Extreme Vacation,” is aptly named, due to the fact that one of the
verses shares its title, as well as the content of the poem “Blind
Parrot Cave.” That South American attraction reveals the continent’s
sinister side. The sentence “The other guests are military men from
Argentina” evokes that nation’s “Dirty War” of the 1970s.
Readers can understand why “The fields are full of coca.” Even those
who are uninterested in Latin American will be floored by the sentence
“The wall is succulent with shit.”

Vaage brings American cartoonist Charles Addams’s graveyard humour to
his poetry. In “Saints Alive!” he recalls a time when “Family
members shared one / Ossuary,” comparing them to “Club Med
time-share condos.” His description of deceased relatives arguing over
each other’s bones brings The Addams Family’s Hollywood
horror-sitcom dementia to a creepier level.

Unfortunately, the writer’s craftsmanship fails to transmit his
emotions to the reader. This ultimately neutralizes much of the book.
Schooled in Salt is an adequate introduction to Vaage, in every sense of
the word.


Vaage, Leif E., “Schooled in Salt,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,