Trains of Winnipeg


84 pages
ISBN 0-919688-57-8
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Douglas Barbour

Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.


Clive Holden is a media artist with an audio CD and what he calls
“film poems” to his credit. Trains of Winnipeg, his first book of
poetry, is a pretty wild gathering of everything but the kitchen sink.
There are some broken sonnets and villanelles, concrete poems, what seem
to be songs, a manifesto of sorts, some prose poems, and a wide variety
of verses. In them all, the speaker/poet stands in the foreground,
asking that we empathize with his vision, his sense of things falling

Part 1, “Condo,” has to do mostly with family memories and personal
recollections of death and destruction. Part 2, “Manitoba
Manifesto,” contains said manifesto, as well as the title poem and
some other highly politicized pieces in which the person provides the
focus. Part 3, “Burning Down the Suburbs,” contains more public
poems as well as some that insist on one’s personal involvement.

Trains of Winnipeg reveals Holden’s experimental streak, but not all
of the experiments prove equally successful. A lyric “I” speaks most
of the poems (except the concrete ones), and unless readers feel empathy
for this speaker, they will quickly lose interest. A perennial problem
with political art is that it tends to reach only those who already
agree with its positions. Despite this limitation, Trains of Winnipeg is
a wide-ranging and worthy debut.



Holden, Clive., “Trains of Winnipeg,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,