Four Vancouver writers — they formed what they call a “writing club” together — contributed to this collection, in search of a non-political means of expressing their values, and imagining that “poetry can be as liberating as a manifesto.” It’s surprising they didn’t see this one step farther, to a poetry collection as a manifesto in and of itself, though that’s basically what they’ve produced.
A few of the poems chosen for riverveins contradict the stated mandate and wade into overtly rebellious (or at least cause-backing) territory, but the majority of these pieces are personal reflections and remembrances (both recent and childhood) that do, as the authors desired, open a window on the types of people they are. However, much of this work raises the same structural question: why is this a poem? A number of these entries read as nothing more than anecdotes that were broken into multiple lines; there’s no discernible rhythmic structure, and they likely would have been better presented as prose passages.
Formalistic qualms aside, these are personal and relatable poems that rely on uncomplicated (though by no means dull) language. The majority of these pieces share the same contemplative tone, ensuring a consistent voice, and each writer’s contributions are equally readable. (Scott Bryson)