Telephone communication is a prevalent subject in From a Call Box, but the real theme is communication between people. Calls for help, calls for information, calls for love, calls of desperation. In the author’s words, “We transfer vast amounts of information via these technologies, as well as the huge range of human emotions. We are not always successful in our attempt to get both emotion and information across to the person on the other end of the telephone line.” From a Call Box is an exploration of people’s funny, poignant, sad, sometimes tragic attempts to make connections.
Stallworthy eschews metaphor in favour of the unadorned narrative. As with Tom Wayman, the “I” of Stallworthy’s poems is often that curious but befuddled everyman who smiles inwardly as if to acknowledge the fact that we’re all bozos on this bus, but the sort of guy you trust and want to engage in conversation. Stallworthy is a good deal more economical with his phrasing and scene development than Wayman, and more inclined to keep you waiting for the punch line. His timing is as impeccable as the working class raconteur’s; he knows when the coffee break ends, and how to keep you waiting until lunch.
For its historical range alone, From a Call Box is an interesting book, but when you add in the variety of human situations Stallworthy explores — a young man rehearsing a call for a date; lost conversations stored like peas in cans in a dead mother’s pantry; a salesman making a “cold call” — you have a must read collection.
From a Call Box is an extended metaphor in which the language of telecommunication is used to talk about the emotional limits of human communication… a valuable addition to the burgeoning literature about the effects, both positive and negative, of technology on our sense of community.
About the Author
Bob Stallworthy is a transplanted Maritimer who has lived in Calgary for 25 years. He has written four full-length books of poetry, including this one) and an ongoing e-book called In Silhouettecontaining the profiles of Alberta authors. He has also written book reviews for The Calgary Herald as well as a regular column for WestWord (the Writers Guild of Alberta magazine), and has written and published poetry in literary magazines across Canada. His book Optics was shortlisted for the 2004 W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize. Stallworthy, who was awarded the Calgary Freedom of Expression Award in 2002, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of Alberta, a member of the League of Canadian Poets and a member of the Young Alberta Book Society.