Pool Hall


Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919957-07-2






Photos by Sara Lee James
Reviewed by Mark Bastien

Mark Bastien was a Toronto-based journalist.


This offbeat collection is a series of photographs and graphics about the players and strategy of the game of pool. Beth Jankola and photographer Sara Lee James try to capture the seedy vitality of a run-down poolhall: the graffiti on the walls, the long-sideburned players, the stillness of concentration. They are only fleetingly successful.

The seven black-and-white photographs (one of which is repeated) are duskily evocative. Although dimly lit and sometimes reproduced too small to be fully effective, they are gritty and straight-forward. Jankola’s graphics are not so accessible: some are scrawls of words on the wall, others are illustrations of pool shots, still others are eyes and faces and baseball caps without owners. One page contains five caps, a pool table, a sign on the wall that says, “Mean Mother Trucker,” musical notes with “Hot jive in the city,” and the message “Where men are men and women are cooks.” The back cover of the collection tells the reader “you’re so lost,” suggesting the author didn’t mean to be accessible. It’s more like an excuse for muddled, pretentious musings.

The author’s biography, however, is a fine example of organization and clarity. Her achievements, documented numerically, include the names of 36 publications, organizations, and awards. Perhaps Jankola was afraid the reader would not see a poet at work.


Jankola, Beth, “Pool Hall,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/37407.