Taking the Breath Away

by Harold Rhenisch

Ronsdale Press

A Juxtaposition of Poetic Styles

by Ed Farolan

When a poet comments on another poet's work, it becomes a meeting of emotions and minds because as a poet, I read poems with my heart and not my head.

In this new collection of poems by B.C. poet Harold Rhenisch, I savor the Cariboo rural ambience, that peace and tranquility we as poets need in order to able ourselves, so to speak, to transcend into subliminal heights of verse and soul flights.

The visual echoing of fields in Cariboo summers in his title poem Taking the Breath Away express this:...in the high plateau/ the thistles grow...brilliant purple flowers...Among them men plant cabbages and beets..." Although this poem doesn't take my breath away, it does fill me with that kind of peace and solace only a poet can feel.

But Rhenisch is not just the hick poet from the Cariboo. He is cultured, well-traveled, and his different poetic styles reflect contemporary poetic sophistication. Take, for example, his poem A Guide to Euclidean Geometry :

First the axiom: the hand can speak, the foot can breathe, and the bones can hang in a burlap sack from a tree branch and invent philosophies, mathematics, poetry, and God.

What poetic punch! Poetic absurdism in its complexity! A stark contrast to the simpler, tranquil, and descriptive Cariboo poems.

Harold Rhenisch, who now makes his home in 108 Mile House in the Cariboo region in British Columbia is recognized as one of Canada's finer poets. He has five collections of poetry to his credit, and is the author of the best-selling prose memoir Out of the Interior: The Lost Country.

Copyright 1998 Ed Farolan