When the Devil Calls

When Roger Bell’s first book of poetry, Real Lives, came out it was praised for its “small town flavor” in that it depicted what life was like at the grass roots. In this latest book, Bell returns to that subject, but broadens it to include the neighborhoods, the countryside, and the territories of small towns both on this side and that side of the U.S. and Canadian border. This latest book is really about “the crossing of borders,” as he suggests. But this is symbolic. It isn’t just in his venturing into the U.S., and becoming familiar with their climate and culture and biases and way of life, but also in exploring his own mortality. It is a crossing of borders into “middle age,” like a broadening estuary, a widening awareness of other men, of women and children, of societal issues, of aging, of all the stimuli which bombard us at this stage of life.

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