Review of A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth
From Jonathan Ball , Winnipeg Free Press, September 24, 2011

Gillian Sze casts melancholic eye

Stephanie Bolster, winner of a Governor General’s Award for poetry, offers a more complex and nuanced approach to the things of the world in A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth (Brick, 80 pages, $19). To some degree a poetic catalogue of wonder and horror, but without much overt sentiment, Bolster’s poems are best when the images ring strange but true: “There is beauty everywhere in this city, history everywhere, a pit that / held a bear before the war.”

Bolster focuses more on images than emotions, leaving the reader to interpret and react. She notes, “The arcades sell postcards of old photographs of the arcades,” but allows us to make the connection to our media-saturated, reality-television culture. Elsewhere, she’s more playful and musical, at the expense of clear sense: “What lacks a wick? / Match-flash against the black / rough strip of a packet; / eye-flash.”

As good poets do, Bolster trusts the reader to pick up her dropped threads.

Winnipeg English professor Jonathan Ball is the author of the poetry books Ex Machina and Clockfire.

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