Hey, Crumbling Balcony! Poems New and Selected


224 pages
ISBN 1-55022-574-X
DDC C811'.54






Reviewed by Chris Knight

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


Stuart Ross writes serious poems with punchlines, and funny poems with
serious themes, so you’re never sure whether your eyes are narrowed in
concentration or laughter. A work that begins “I find myself attracted
/ to the desolation of monogamy” will end, 12 seemingly metaphorical
lines later, with “Wait! Did I say monogamy? / I meant Managua.” It
is as if T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock really had seen a patient etherized
upon a table. Ross’s poem about a road trip with his father manages an
elegiac tone while simultaneously wondering what it might be like to be
silent in French.

This is a fairly hefty volume as poetry books go, with 28 new works and
81 selected from Ross’s almost three-decade career as a published
poet—a career that began when he was 16. A five-page afterword by Ross
explains his literary history and offers a peek at his methods,
including an early poem in which he writes about nuns in

the Arctic and penguins in a Catholic school: “it was / an exchange
program.” Such a postscript should be mandatory for books of this
type, letting us meet the man who writes so eloquently of Managua—or
was it monogamy?


Ross, Stuart., “Hey, Crumbling Balcony! Poems New and Selected,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17822.