Poems Released on a Nuclear Wind


79 pages
ISBN 0-919001-41-6
DDC C811'






Reviewed by Neil Querengesser

Neil Querengesser taught in the Department of English, University of Calgary, Alberta.


The poems in this volume are intensely personal, expressing Cooper’s rejection of a contemporary world raging out of control — with cars spinning out on black ice and visions of imminent nuclear war — and his desire to return to nature for solace. Cooper has perfected his technique for presenting vivid and brilliant images of nature that capture the essence of the various details he observes so closely and intensely. He passionately longs for the pastoral innocence that he feels once characterized the landscape and human society in a bygone era, and each of his poems pleads with the reader to slow down and observe the beauty of nature and listen to its voices in an attempt to connect once again with nature and regain that lost innocence. The spectre of nuclear annihilation serves as an effective counterpoint to the pastoral vision in such poems as “The Dream of War,” “Things That Happen Suddenly,” and “The White Houses.” Otherwise, as in his earlier work, the poems sometimes seem repetitive. The stones, the grass, and the animals speak to him, but their message is always the same: “perhaps the most important thing we can ever know on / earth / is that the earth loves us, and shelters us….” Certainly, such a message is worth proclaiming. But perhaps even Cooper is not able to interpret the meaning of these voices as clearly as he would like to, admitting his own limitations in the prose poem “Thinking of Rilke in Late August”: “There are times when I have gone into myself and found only silence. Perhaps I should have gone deeper, into the grief-channels that flow beneath the earth, their sound sometimes closer, sometimes further away. I would carry that sound up if I could, the soily smell still clinging to it as if to stones.” Nevertheless, these poems stand as successful testimony to a poet passionately in love with both his craft and his natural surroundings.


Cooper, Allan, “Poems Released on a Nuclear Wind,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/34598.