The Mechanics of Submission


61 pages
ISBN 0-919688-87-X
DDC C811'.6





Reviewed by Bert Almon

Bert Almon is a professor of English at the University of Alberta. He is
the author of Calling Texas, Earth Prime, and Mind the Gap.


The title of Tabakow’s book cleverly brings together his dual
background as an ex-factory worker and the holder of a Ph.D. in creative
writing. Tabakow’s work shows an interest in poetry as a subject,
though he is not very good at writing about writing. Does anyone care
about Flannery O’Connor’s experiences at the Iowa Creative Writing
Workshop? Most poets can risk a poem or two about their own art, but the
self-consciousness can be oppressive. One poem about writing, titled
“Complaint,” is quite good; he opens by admitting that “[s]ooner
or later, the poetry of experience ends in the poetry of repetition,”
which is a problem with poetry about industrial work. In another poem,
he sneers at Philip Levine for exploiting his time in factories, but
Tabakow shows far less command of language than the distinguished
American poet, whose particular Detroit seems an inexhaustible font of
moving poetry. The tone of Tabakow’s poems is probably meant to be
tough but comes across as merely harsh, and his ironies are rather
obvious. Perhaps the best poem is one about his father at the race
track, “Claimers in the Stretch.” For once, tone and incident are
just right.


Tabakow, Phil., “The Mechanics of Submission,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 13, 2024,