The Way Life Should Be

A review of The Way Life Should Be by Ken Norris

Published on April 1, 2003

The Way Life Should Be
Ken Norris

Wolsak and Wynn
$15
paper
87pp
0-919897-85-1

Ken Norrris’s book, the latest of twenty titles, does not have a heartening effect. Norris’s earlier work was often ambitious, though he found it hard to resist an off-hand manner. The influence of Raymond Souster and Frank O’Hara was not good for him. This collection if meant to be relaxing and charming but seems flabby and glib. Open it to almost any page and find something of this calibre, a complete poem called “The Passions of My Life”:

The passions of my life
are poetry, pussy, music,
travel and baseball.
In that order.

He is particularly dull on his second passion, though an amusing poem, “Opening Day,” brings it together with baseball. The narrator senses that a new season has begun with his divorce and wonders if he can still hit a curveball. Norris’s selected poems, Hotel Montreal (reviewed by Sonja A. Skarstedt in issue number nine of this journal), shows a poet of considerable range and power, but in this collection the muse has thrown him a poetic beanball. mRb

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

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