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We Were Like Everyone Else by Ken Victor

Finalist for Concordia University First Book Prize in 2019


Traversing the world from the Garden of Eden to a grandmother asking what’s a tweet, We Were Like Everyone Else explores the daily humanity of family, the folly of our politics, and a natural world that seems to offer the promise of consolation but never quite does. In poems both lyrical and narrative, the possibility of violence is never far off, but the same can be said of love, our capacity to endure, our hunger for healing and redemption. And yet these poems offer no prescription, no bulwark to keep menace from our children or despair from encroaching on our few vestiges of hope. Ken Victor’s first collection of poems takes us back to children ducking under desks in the nuclear fear of the 50’s, to the collapse of innocence in the face of the Vietnam War, to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the depravity of the siege of Sarejevo. Always the question of whether or not we can survive our own missteps lingers in the background of our 21st century lives as we go about raising our children, dining in restaurants, walking in woods, working from a home office. As one poem puts it, you’ve got to live your life like you’re in control of it, pray like you aren’t.


What’s Next
The first word of every poem might be “Yes.” The next words: “And then.”
Jane Hirschfield
Yes, and then
no. Of course
it’s both. Life’s
last and then
don’t. We say
“I do” and ten
years later “I
don’t”, don’t
we? And then
we’re off, off
looking high
and low, no?,
for the next
yes, yes? Yes.

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