Saskatoon StarPhoenix Review - A Calendar of Reckoning

Reviewed by: Bill Robertson

From Saskatoon poet/novelist/editor Dave Margoshes comes his latest collection of poetry, A Calendar of Reckoning (Coteau, $17.95), and you'll want to pay attention to that second noun. Unlike Schmidt, who needs to lay out some parameters for what she'll be speaking about, Margoshes goes straight to familiar poetic territory: self and family. But once he's located himself in time and space — Brooklyn, 1950s, parents and two older sisters — he heads into something intimate and the reckoning that's come with that event.

The titles Cancer, Suddenly Old, The Body Politic, The Terrible Hour, The Hospital, and The Scar tell a story in themselves, and out of that fact of the body's change, its sickness and recovery, the collection moves to three sections tellingly titled Topsy-Turvy, The Ripening, and The Road Going on, or Feral Indirection. Except for the odd glance at something very specific — a quinzee, for instance, or a lovely quartet on a river — Margoshes becomes philosophical, theological, even, meditating in small bursts of lyric on everything from trees, eggs, and kinds of light, to religion and possibilities for its foundation, the existence of God, prayer, Creation Theory, as one title has it, and, in a synonym for reckoning, Atonement.

This is the work of a man who was pulled up short in his life and, in a move that concurs with the wisdom traditions of the world, is taking the time and effort to learn something from his rub against mortality. The poem Salvation, for instance, in which he faces up to himself, good and bad, and looks out into the universe could be shorthand for the entire collection. As the Taoists and the haiku masters know, you don't need a lot or words to say a great deal. Margoshes dips into that wisdom as he reckons with his life.


This review originally appeared in the article Collection of Poems which appeared in the StarPhoenix on July 1, 2018. To read the full review click here.

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