Chapbook Review: Taxicab Voice


Taxicab Voice
Chapbook, Neil Flowers, 12 pgs, above/ground press,, $5

The 5.5 x 8.5 inch format favoured by above/ground press was waived for this collection; Taxicab Voice is a comparably enormous 8.5 by 11. It was presumably the author’s preference, and while it could be owing to the length of a couple of these poems, Neil Flowers may also have been looking to make this resemble a song book. Most of this writing involve music, in one form or another, and it’s all dedicated to Bill Hawkins, a recently-deceased Canadian folk musician and poet.

Much of Taxicab Voice speaks from the perspective of Hawkins, and it’s possible that it’s entirely about him — a narration of the about-town and on-the-road life of a Canadian bard. If the two men weren’t friends, they were at least acquaintances — both inhabited the Ottawa poetry scene of the early ’70s, and Flowers included Hawkins’ writing in an anthology in 1973.

There’s a particular term that appears repeatedly throughout this collection, loosely tying its poems together: “starfuckers” (in multiple forms). In one instance, it refers to groupies, as seen from Hawkins’ perspective: the “Women with rainbows for eyes.” Later, the label is assigned to someone who picks up Hawkins after his car breaks down: “Who comes to your rescue? / Creeley. / Star Fucker!” (referencing poet Robert Creeley). Flowers’ carefree use of such language paints an amusing image of that fulsome circle of artists. (Scott Bryson)