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Creating The Country
by John Oughton

MODEST AND soft-spoken, Rhona McAdam's new poems create their effects by exactness of tone and a careful accretion of imagery. Usually written in complete sentences, eschewing the exploration of the politics of language that many other contemporary women poets undertake, the contents of Creating the Country (Thistledown, 80 pages, $9.95 paper) achieve distinction by attention to the exact harmonies in shifting relationships, the flavours of loss, exile, and change. The most successful poems in this collection focus on emotional ties between women, particularly between daughters and mothers. "Caesura," "Spring Flowers," and "The Smell" all explore brilliantly the overlapping of selves, the love and frustration shared by women on either side of a generation gap. A weakness throughout the book is undramatic opening lines; it usually takes a stanza or so to realize that the poem really does have something to say. But once the reader gets that far, some subtle and often accomplished lines emerge: Cool, Nordic lost in a blue mosaic of time governed by questionable logic. Although the tone is generally serious, there's one very funny poem: a round-up of all possible soap opera plots titled "Another Life to Live at the Edge of the Young and Restless Days of Our Lives."

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