The Night the Dog Smiled


78 pages
ISBN 0-920763-33-2






Reviewed by Sheila Martindale

Sheila Martindale is poetry editor of Canadian Author and Bookman and
author of No Greater Love, her sixth collection of poetry.


There is a wide range in the work of John Newlove, which Margaret Atwood has termed his “impressive versatility.” In this latest book there is probably something to appeal to everyone, though everything here will not necessarily appeal to all tastes.

Newlove’s “straightforward” poems are deceptive, with many layers of meaning under the simple surface. Several poems are written to people, some of them to other poets such as Sorestad, Rosenblatt, and Purdy, and these are especially interesting if one is familiar with the works of those poets. Then there are his narrative poems, such as “A Very Old Man,” where the author is not shy about putting himself in a poor light; this device indicates Newlove’s confidence in himself as a writer and a person. The collection contains several well crafted historical and geographical pieces. For those who enjoy surrealism, Newlove has given us several strange poems which will bear fourth and fifth readings to get at the meaning; and there is one prose piece which is probably taken from an old manuscript in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. It is called “The Perfect Colours of Flowers” and is quite disturbing to read — in more contemporary language it might be termed “gross.” All in all a fascinating selection, and one which fans of John Newlove will not want to miss.


Newlove, John, “The Night the Dog Smiled,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024,