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by Thomas Carpenter

Derek Wynand's writing might be called the poetry of contentment. It does not rage against the world or seek out the sharp little implications of our common assumptions. It rarely asks the question, "Why?" Instead it sketches pictures of acceptance, and the measured life, But now, like you, I have no goals: We watch the apples burn up on Their branches; we listen to the Rooster crow, and that seems enough.

The images Wynand prefers are hot beches and birds and tides; mice in traps, ants marching for the sugar bowl, and bees in the roses. The construction of his poems is not clever or conspicuous. He does not delight in the play of words so much as the sentiments he uses words to express, and the overall effect is subdued and contemplative. 'Me reader is not so much impressed or entertained as lulled into a certain understanding of the world as a place for daily living where the timeless themes and questions are buried deep in routines.

Such a style, of course, does not make for exciting reading, and the person who reads the first half of Heat Waves might not be tempted to carry on. That, however, would be unfortunate because the strongest writing is found toward the end of the book, where the mood established by the preceding poems throws some of the more fanciful later works into a higher relief. "Queluz Palace" and "In the Gardens at Queluz" are subtle?and beautiful poems of love. Painted angels peel from the ceiling and dance with a lover in a hall of mirrors. A stone angel almost smiles at the stubborn affection of someone scrubbing dirt from his face with a hard brush. These poems work well, and they are made all the more poignant by the familiarity of both the voice speaking and the loved one who is being described. In Heat Waves the impression is created that regular everyday people who have neighbours and bugs in their homes also have periodic magic and poetry in their lives.

One of the works in this collection is titled "Still Life," and for the most part these poems are indeed just like small pencil drawings of a very still life. This is not poetry to whet a jaded appetite. For many the writing will in fact be too quiet and will not repay the reader adequately. But toward the end of the book Wynand's gentle style meets passion, and the poems echo with evocative tensions and secret whispers.


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