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Maisonneuve Magazine Full Review

"Joe Denham displays similar precision in the sequence "Night Haul, Morning Set," a pitch-perfect suite of sixteen sixteen-line poems about his time as a commercial fisherman on the West Coast. Like Trower, Denham exploits the specialized vocabulary of his trade to its fullest potential, his poems stocked with terms like "hauler," "set," "pike pole," "davit" and more; terms obscure to the layman but which need no explanation because they are props in vividly realized scenes. And like Babstock, Denham presents the sometimes bleak plight of the worker obliquely, drawing subtle lines of connection between the life of prey and predator. In one poem, rain gear is "[s]tiff as a crustacean's carapace"; in another oneiric piece, the speaker "crawl[s] the sea floor, crustaceous" and is then violently hauled up to the surface; in another, the poet reflects on his subordinate role in the piscine economy while gutting a squid:

I bring the glinting blade down and
cut the blue-grey guts away, catch
my reflection in the steel-shaft
mirror: guilt-wracked, gut-sick
for two bucks a pound, fish feed,
tako sushi on Robson Street.

These poems display a wealth of dramatic tension, metaphorical vaulting, verbal dexterity and formal wherewithal. They present work not as a cardboard template for ideological grandstanding, but as a complex and fully realized verbal world."
-Zach Wells, Maisonneuve Magazine