286 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
Bridgman is a poet who not only understands ordinary people and sympathizes
with them, but also sees the ordinariness and humanity of those
whose misfortunes and mistakes have made them criminals. To gain some
of the benefit of Bridgman’s long experience of human nature by reading A
Lamb is an opportunity not to be missed.
Unfortunately, as with most Canadian books of poetry, the layout of A
Lamb does the poems few favours. In more than one instance, two longish
poems telling markedly similar stories are placed back to back, dampening
the effect of both. In a book this length—with over 100 pages filled with
poetry—it is hard to justify the editorial decision to include pairs of poems
or, for that matter, a knife-shaped tribute to Al Purdy that had to be printed
in a reduced type to fit on a single page. Of course, the sheer amount of
material in A Lamb must have made the editor’s task of organization difficult—
but in this case that difficulty has been delegated to the reader.
An alternative approach would have been to split this material into two
shorter books—one of verse fictions and the other of more personal lyrics.
The more I think of that possibility, the more I wish it had been done. But
if wishes were horses, as the old proverb goes, beggars would ride.