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by Barbara Carey

THE COVER OF Carol Malyon`s first collection of poetry, Headstand (Wolsak & Wynn, 91 pages, $9.00 paper), features a map of the world turned upside down, land masses a cerulean blue afloat in oceans of scarlet. Many of the poems, too, give a fresh tilt to such familiar territory as the anxieties of aging and the ambiguities of memory and its role in how we see ourselves ("Memory: making up our own history / as we go along"). There are two styles here: tightly controlled, shorter pieces in which the poet focuses on art work by Alex Colville, Charles Pachter, and other contemporary artists; and longer, loosely narrative rambles that open up the poems from ordinariness to surprising -- and effective -- shifts. Malyon`s "readings" of visual art are intellectually interesting, but the burnout and unforced flow of the conversational pieces make them somewhat more engaging -- and no less thought- provoking. A few of the poems fizzle out disappointingly; just a few. More often Headstand is like the soap bubbles that Malyon describes in "Alliston," which "curve the world until it`s strange & magic."

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