7 November 2014

by Victor Enns
Published Hagios Press
Review by Regine Haensel
$17.95 ISBN 978-1-926710-14-3

I first met Victor Enns when he was Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, work which he did extremely well. With Boy, his fourth book of poetry, he shows more of his varied abilities, and tells us:

“The Gretna yard is still
the place I dream from”

It is often a childhood place that holds us captive, helping to define our adult selves. Though Enns was born in Winnipeg, he grew up in Gretna, Manitoba. Currently, he works as Publishing and Arts Consultant for Manitoba Culture, Heritage, and Tourism. Enns attended the University of Manitoba, and was a founding board member of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.

The book contains haunting, humourous, and singing poems, some with a twist at the end that makes us see the world differently. It begins with the experiences of a toddler connecting with his mother, and progresses into the early teen years of peer friendship in the city of Winnipeg. We find the interconnections of family life with the singular experiences of one boy growing up. But these poems do more than merely evoke an idyllic prairie childhood. It is the 1960’s after all, and

“The Americans on the other side
Are dangerous.”

There are other risks as well: bullies at school, cats that kill baby rabbits if you leave the cage open, the awakenings of sexuality, and the temptations of drugs. Enns does not shy away from the traumatic experience of sexual abuse at the hands of a stranger. He presents it simply from a small boy’s point of view and leaves us with the poignant words:

“I cannot look
upon my father’s

Whether you have lived in a small town or not, these poems will remind many of their own childhood, small joys and odd characters. One of my favourites in the collection is “Salvation” which ends with the words:

“I read
my way out of a place
as small as the eye
of a needle and as full
of itself as a bag of dirt.”

Ironically, most of us, like the poet, do not ever leave our childhoods completely behind.


No Comments

Comments are closed.