The Way Life Should Be

By Bert Almon

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

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.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

More Reviews

The North Star

The North Star

Julian Sher's historical tome shows the Canadian and Montreal connections to the U.S. Civil War, on the Confederate side.

By Jocelyn Parr

A House Without Spirits

A House Without Spirits

David Homel’s novel about a forgotten photographer is a deep dive into memory, trauma, and art.

By Michel Hardy-Vallée