Saturday, 24 October 2015

Book review: I Don't Do Poetry

I Don't Do Poetry (2015) is a self-published 94-page book of 42 poems composed from 2007 to 2015, by Tom Kanigan, a 70 year-old British Columbia-born Doukhobor. This is his first book.

Tom admits that while he was a good non-fiction writer, he never believed that he had any creative talent. At age 62, Tom began writing poetry in 2007. The entire book is online as a promotion.
Tom, a graduate of political science and public administration, worked in Ottawa for over 33 years in the Canadian Public Service primarily in Human Resources Management. He resides in Ottawa and winters with his wife Rose in Florida. He says that he regularly shares his poems with creative writing groups in both Florida and Canada, as well as with online writers groups. Tom is also working on a book regarding his family heritage.

Tom Kanigan's poetry is open verse, no punctuation, no structured rhyme. The widely varied 42 poems are clustered into 5 categories in the table of contents: Childhood Memories, Family and Friends, Relationships, Personal Struggles and Growth, and Social and Political commentary.

This is an easy-to-read no nonsense book about love, forgiveness, compassion, of growing up. It is about telling the truth and being genuine with one oneself, with family and the wider community. It is an unfinished journey of self-discovery, always trying to connect the head to the heart.

Tom tries hard to make amends with his alcoholic Dad whom he had a difficult relationship with him while he was still alive. He also critically looks at his roots in a small community, but with time and distance he comes to terms with them. Here is an example of the author's rediscovery of his Doukhobor Roots (2013):
Grandma taught me Life lessons
I cherish still
Toil and Peaceful Life
Loving Thy Neighbour as Thyself
Simple Fun
True Generosity
The Spirit of God
In us all. [Page 36]
About Lev N. Tolstoy (2015), the renowned Russian international writer, philosopher and peace activist, here is an excerpt:
For Tolstoy
As for the Doukhobors
Love is central to human relations
The creation of a society based on
Goodness Equality and Justice for all.
I want to know more
About this Fabulous Man [Page 25]
On the 'Politics of Fear' (2008), Tom Kanigan questions the billions spent on the war on terror. He sees the need for politicians to put an end to war and courageously lead the way with a real human agenda for the common good:
Could some be used for
Fixing Medicare
Eradicating Global Poverty
Diseases like Aids and Malaria
Global Warming and the Environment
Anger Management for us all
If we succumb to
Irrational Fears
Ignoring other Ills
Though real
Have the Terrorists won [Page 82]
Tom Kanigan's book is worth a read. It was published in 2015, and is presented in softcover and eBook formats (ISBN: 978-1-5144-1171-1 and 978-1-5144-1170-4). Available at for $15.95.

See Tom's other work:
  1. Newcomer to Poetry. August 3, 2014. — With early versions of Doukhobor Roots and Politics of Fear.
  2. Tracing My Doukhobor Heritage. July 14, 2014.
  3. Aunt Olga Ogloff — Canadian Citizen at 86. July 15, 2014.


  1. Tom Kanigan, Ottawa, Ontario.
    Thank you, Koozma, for your review, including the references to sites where the book appears. I did not realize the entire book is online at Scribd. Good to know.

  2. Прочитал несколько страниц на Google Books. Мне, было бы интересно, пообщаться даже не с самим "поэтом", а с человеком которому это может понравиться. Если такие люди найдутся, которые возможно эти произведения выучат наизусть, и смогут на литературном языке обосновать красоту этих шедевров, пусть свяжутся со мной, для увлекательной беседы.

    1. Translation of Valery Kalmykov's comment: I have read through some pages on Google Books. To me, it would be interesting, to communicate not just with the 'poet', but with the person who would be interested. If such people can be found, who can learn to recite these works by heart and can create in literary language the beauty of these masterpieces, please communicate with me for a fascinating conversation.