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by Louise LONGO

Fans of Robert Kroetsch's poetry (of whom I am one) may find Excerpts from the Real Florid disappointing. Though it does contain some delightful whimsy and a fine sense of the playful side of the literary life, artfully mingled with the more sombre, its total effect doesn't quite add up to anything memorable. At times the tone is intentionally undermining and even mocking - of the poetic intent:
Everything recurs (more or leas). Consider, for Instance, spring. Or transmission problems.
While this can serve to break - or at least cast doubt on - the preciousness and/or self-importance of the poetic stance, it can also trivialize it. The effect of Kroetsch's short, journal-type entries is not entirely successful. They seem to lack a depth or risk of feeling:
Arabic wisdom. "The truth is too precious to share." And so our harms grope In the dark, finding buckles and zippers. We say nothing.
The cumulative effect of Kroetsch's evocative and lyrical talents begins to be felt toward the end of the volume:
The festive ululations of the women, their tongues quick in the red openness of their mouths, their voices high into ecstasy, drove me to the bliss of ruin. I stayed in the desert forever.
Beautiful stuff, but to me it cannot make up for the hollow-feeling at the centre of this book.

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