By Bert Almon

A review of Postscript by Geoffrey Cook

Published on October 1, 2004

Geoffrey Cook

Vehicule Press

Geoffrey Cook’s first collection is written mostly in strict forms, though some of his best writing comes in “River Renga,” a sequence from “Tidnish Bridge, Nova Scotia.” The Japanese form (a pattern of haiku and two-line verses) lets his imagination run off-leash without getting lost. Most of the other poems are in sonnets, tercets, or quatrains. Once in a while a rhyme is forced or obvious, but the style is never archaic.

The best poems come in the second section, which is written mostly in sonnets dealing with an unhappy love affair in Czechoslovakia. (What traditional form is more suited to the purpose?) “Postscript,” the title poem, is too long and dispersed: sometimes the brevity of a sonnet can say more. Another account of a love affair, “Lines to Anastasia,” is comprised of two sonnets, a poem in quatrains, and a splendid conclusion in terza rima, invoking Dante, who “believed / our souls are measured by how hard we love.” The quatrain poem in the sequence uses rich and risqué ambiguities in describing the beloved as a ditch full of flowers. The audacity recalls Seamus Heaney’s “The Skunk,” in which his wife, in a black plunge-line nightdress, reminds him of the unpopular quadruped. Cook’s work is cosmopolitan without losing touch with Maritime settings. mRb

Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.



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