Personal Effects


70 pages
ISBN 1-55050-292-1
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is senior movie reviewer for the National Post.


Michael Bradford’s poems come at the reader from all directions.
It’s not just the cumulative effect of a group of eight linked poems
called “Recipe Box Letters,” in which a woman’s life and
personality are drawn forth from remembrances of her in the
kitchen—though that is part of it. There’s also a series of 13 works
under the title “Clearing Out,” which examine a broken marriage from
the point of view of several extended family members of both sexes and
several generations.

More general but just as important is the way Bradford’s works move
incrementally around their subject matter, so that whether they are
erotically charged or deeply familial, each new work presents a parallax
view. It allows his subjects to achieve a startling

The language is simple but stirring: the recipe box poems refer to “a
funeral card stuck to a Bundt cake / recipe you used to make for
receptions”; while the unnamed baker’s homey measurements are
rendered as “about so long, a shake / or two, maybe a pinch.” The
poet seems content that relationships can never be fully understood even
by their participants, but he’s determined to build up as much of a
portrait as words allow. The rest is up to the reader.


Bradford, Michael., “Personal Effects,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,