Sounds New


126 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 0-919754-15-5
DDC C811'.54'08099714





Edited by Peter van Toorn
Reviewed by Laurence Steven

Laurence Steven is Chairman of the English Department at Laurentian
University and author of Dissociation and Wholeness in Patrick White’s


The poets in this collection “are less concerned with the traditional
task of ‘refining the dialect of the tribe’ than with exploring a
New Age mysticism focused on transcending science.” These poets
explore human behavior, motivation, imagination, and foibles—the
directions of the human mind—in order to re-evaluate “philosophic
and aesthetic values.” Rather than the cold, empirical eye of
traditional analysis, there is a fresh, personal engagement with simple
human experiences and observations, as in Joan Ruvinsky’s “Small
Ponds” where freezeup begins with “just a film / at sunrise you
wouldn’t even / notice” and continues until “solid reaches in and
in / and grasps the last ripple for its own.”

Much of the value of this anthology lies in its diversity. Poems range
from simple but poignant works like “Small Ponds,” to Robbie
Drummond’s apocalyptic “The Sun Is Whatever You Say It Is,” where
“the sun will reduce us to nothing, finally.” There is a fresh
appeal to many of the poems here, like Ruth Taylor’s freely written
poem “To the Muses.” Joan Ruvinsky’s “Beep” grounds its appeal
in an ironic play on the mindless repetition of an answering machine.
Her message progresses by changing slightly each time it repeats itself.
The poem moves from the familiar “This is a recording” to its
ominously satirical ending: “We will bury you after the sound of the
beep.” Phil Moscovitch writes a poetry of social comment.
“Affluence” is an excellent depiction of the truth that “As our
society produces / more goods, / it produces more / beggars.” His
other poems are quite original in their look at pollution and stress.

It is unfortunate that space does not allow us to note more than a few
of the 34 poets in this collection, for there are many that deserve
comment. Suffice it to say that the style, form, and content in Sounds
New remain accessible to the reader, with very few exceptions. The poets
here are the new voices of Canadian literature, and the significant
quality of this collection is a reassuring sign for the future of our
national poetry.


“Sounds New,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,