Paradise Garage


72 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-86492-055-5
DDC C811'




Photos by Michael Estok
Reviewed by Andrew Vaisius

Andrew Vaisius is a Winnipeg day-care director.


For a man who is somewhere around 50 years of age (b.1933, back flap, or b.1939, inside credit page — take your pick), these first published poems are uncertain steps seemingly taken aimlessly. Estok relies heavily on rhythm, word play, and lyricism, but often these are not enough to carry a poem through a satisfying read. Estok lacks a much needed dose of spontaneity, a mental rush of spleen-venting, or simply off-the-wall nonsense. His work sounds too studied and manufactured to elicit participation by the reader. I find it difficult to believe, for example, that anyone in this age walking down a country road could naturally come to express these lines:

The old pony stares me by Shades play
in the cloudy pool of his eye

even if one is ogled by an old pony with a cataract. The lines sound artificial, yet that aspect need not be scrapped. We are, after all, living in the most artificial times. The poetic voice, however, would do better to examine the cultural, political, and economic phoniness than to strain for indifferent or affected constructions.

The maddening part of all this is that Estok has the ability. Two lines from his poem “Out in left field for the Canadian poets’ baseball team” speak volumes. “All we heard above the roaring bell of the wind / was the score a tough enough shout could keep.” Therein lies a lyricism, realism, and tension reeled off so succinctly and with such ease that I’m at a loss to disclose why it isn’t in abundance throughout the book. For a start I suggest Estok shuck his predilection for sword and blood imagery, and reach for something more contemporary, like the obliteration of history for instance, like the distribution of wealth.



Estok, Michael, “Paradise Garage,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,