94 pages
ISBN 0-88971-194-1
DDC C811'.6






Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is a columnist and a copy editor of the National Post.


Joe Denham writes about the sea in a manner at once lyrical and
refreshingly unromantic. Sixteen poems linked under the title “Night
Haul, Morning Set” describe life on a modern fishing trawler with
imagery that is full of diesel fumes and snapping lines: “I sidestep /
their pounce, daydream as they pass / of all that becomes second
nature.” The jacket says that Denham was once a prawn fisherman in
British Columbia’s Georgia Strait, confirming what the poems tell us:
One has to have lived it to describe it thus.

Other linked sets comprise the 47 poems in this volume, and if they
sometimes read like mere lists of observations, they just as often
surpass that, as in, for example, “I have grown to love slow things.
The way seconds suspend / As the sun’s upper radius sinks below the
island horizon.” There are even times when mere observation, by virtue
of its metaphorical ripeness, is awesome, as when two women are seen
with “to-go cups hoisted like talking sticks in their hands.”

Denham also draws heavily on the imagery of the city, and the way the
changing cityscape can create, distort, and ultimately abandon memories.
There’s a pull here between natural and artificial landscape that
gives this collection a real spark.


Denham, Joe., “Flux,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17777.