Review of EnCompass IV by K.V. Skene

Encompas IV CoverEnCompass IV                                                                                               Review by K.V. Skene

by Venera Fazio, Howard Freedlander, Joanna Gale, Rhonda Melanson,

Catina Noble, Stella Mazur Preda.

Compiled/ Edited /Layout by Mark Clement, Cover art by Lynn Tait.

Beret Days Press, 2015, 75 pp

ISBN 978-1-926495-09-5

Volume four of The Ontario Poetry Society’s EnCompass series showcases six diverse but equally accomplished poets. Everything’s very much in sync in this compelling anthology – the artwork, the layout and the poet’s voices add up to an addictive volume from which you can dip in and out or consume cover to cover (as I did) upon first encounter.

Born in Sicily, Venera Fazio lovingly embraces her roots, her parents and her extended family. Regarding her mother she writes; Mom would never know/how much she was loved,/how depression deceives. She deals unsentimentally with hardship and death in a tribute to her grandmother who was: yearning to join Domenico/with candle in hand/brightening the darkness of the other side. Her poems are intimate, direct: Nonna Venera/is the cautionary namesake I invoke/whenever I am tempted/to strike and a delight to read: My granddaughter tells me what I need to hear./She knows me better than I thought.

A both-feet-firmly-planted-on-the-ground poet, Howard Freedlander’s poetry displays a solid grounding in science, a disdain for the modern scene and a deep, spiritual connection with nature. A wry sense of humour leavens his output – evident in the initial poem of his collection: while I,/in a desperate attempt to save face/continue to decant to an appreciative/albeit empty room. His poetic voice is strongest when he is connecting/ identifying with nature: where life survives by a hair’s breath/and the views of night/are comparable to Hubble/as they hang over a wilderness/that will entice, entrap you/and forever hold you hostage.

Not afraid to change voices in midstream, Joanna Gale embraces not only the everydayness as well as the eternal in her landscape but also flaunts a down-home dialect in a local café: And you can’t help but like them over-the-counter/waitresses coulda’ bin yer Aunt Lil or Edith or even/yer sister Sue … Ordinary people in whom she perceptively perceives the extraordinary in an economy of words: a wicker chair waits/in that new place/you travelled to/alone. At home in a pantoum as well as modern verse where she describes herself as a brittle seed pod: out of control/fenced fields loosed/in back wood lots/it seems/a great breakthrough for me

Rhonda Melanson ‘s strong voice, startling images suggests her strength as a ‘confessional’ poet: In front of you, I drank it all./ I became your sacred cow/that you could admit to owning/and parading shamelessly down narrow streets. Relationships – the good, the bad and, yes, the ugly are examined and nothing, no one is sacred: He is somebody else’s stick boy/walking blue across the tundra/his full lips instantly frozen to/a flagpole of his own making Her poems are bold, fearless and ironic –as when she coolly dismisses Berlin: Making it one of the/Top five places in the/World to get laid with/Bling, a crumbling/Victory for the bucket/ List.

Abuse, love and loss – especially loss – are the dominating themes of Catina Noble’s poetry. Her voice is spare, sure and effective: I panic when/A voice over the intercom// Announces to clean up the mess/With me in aisle four. Minimalism is her forte and she favours shorter works; breaths are taken/eyes open and I search for glue//so I can fix many things. Of course, all is not loss – her poetry evidences a childlike wistfulness: close my eyes, make a wish/and blow the suds away tempered by insightful self-awareness. And hope: Other seasons to follow,/more moments to create/second chances to start over//Daddy and me.


Stella Mazur Preda’s kaleidoscope, each a minutely observed slice of life, dazzle in their diversity and intuitive use of language. To her mother she bluntly states: I foundered in your omniscient wisdom/engulfed in a quagmire of my own misgivings. Another poem realizes: Pity is an unsolicited intruder. Vivid travel poems intensify comprehension: Paths of life mirrored in his face,/trophies of ultimate survival: and a deeper measure of understanding: Mother was at her best/in that crooked kitchen/where walls whispered/sunlight danced with shadows/and the old floor tilted/       downhill.


This is an ambitious anthology that should be right at home on your shelf or, better yet, kept close at hand so you can pick it up and discover something/someone new anywhere and anytime at all. Contact for ordering information.

About Catina Noble

I am a writer, author, teacher and traveler.
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1 Response to Review of EnCompass IV by K.V. Skene

  1. d78hill says:

    Congratulations Catina! Looks like a great anthology!

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