Excerpt


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Full review in the Globe and Mail

It's interesting when scientific and philosophical language is used to brocade an ornate liturgy of the connectedness of things as opposed to defining and designating the precise separability of ideas and objects, as in Cruise Control: A Theogony. Fortysomething, Edmonton-born, award-winning poet and classical horn player Ken Howe seems a genius at this genus, a di-jester of congestion and conjectural compression — you get the idea. Cross Christopher Dewdney's cenozoic perambulations with an architectural blueprint of a Gothic cathedral, and you get something that coughs like symphonic botany. Except it is in a car on the Trans-Canada Highway driving eastbound from Regina for three days, with a lonely, loony pilot imagining the pit stops as a gasoline-scented stations of the cross. Kerouac is a back-seat haint in Howe's car-as-confessional. This brilliant sequence is worth the price of admission:

"Tires. Tired. Tirade. Radials /
Radiating from their rotation, Secanol hubcaps /
go-go spiral behind sunflower drumthrob."

You can just about hear the wheels weaving back and forth across the double line, tracked in animistic darkness by "the crisscross latticed/ eyebeams of the squirrels." Howe is uncompromising about his right to combine discursive lexicons: "ditches fill dangerously with/ deer made of shadow, their interlocking/ shapes composing ideographic characters impossible/ to read in this shitty light."

You get so mesmerized on the road with Howe that when he finally pulls up 72 hours later to a motel in Dundas, Ont., you swoon out of the car, dizzy at the oxygen and wondering, with him, "whether, climbing the steps, the fixity/ of this dwelling would suffice/ to quell the ongoing motion." This second collection from Howe will cruise any lucky reader home, or somewhere, busting through hypostatic spider webs, mosquitoes be damned.

Margaret Christakos is a poet and novelist whose recent book, Excessive Love Prostheses, is no minimalist screed.