The first thing that I noticed about Accomplice is that it is an extremely attractive work. The semi-gloss green of the cover and the simple yet elegant cricket illustration (by Kaylin Put) is minimalistic in an effective way. The rough-cut pages and gentle stitching make holding this work a pleasant tactile experience.
On the whole, the poems in Accomplice are disparate in theme, but unified by Derksen’s consistent style and tone. In a way, it reminded me of looking through someone’s photo album; it is a curated collection of important moments. I especially enjoyed how the poems seemed to grow in intensity as I read through the chapbook.
The poems run the gamut from fairly abstract scenes (the fireworks) to more prose-centred pieces (The Man From Mars Tries Coca-Cola, [title], lilacs). Despite this variation, none of the pieces feel out of place. There is also lots of good play with repetition, such as the poems less and more and summer.
Specifically speaking of less is more and summer draws attention to how well ordered the collection is. In addition to these two poems complementing each other in their repetition on opposing pages, opening and closing with poems about relationships that are obviously very close to the author lends the collection a wonderful symmetry. The inserting of the same cricket from the cover illustration divided by a centrefold (in a restaurant) also makes Accomplice feel very complete.
The best aspects of the work in my opinion are Derksen’s use of narrative, second-person address, and personal confession. While none of these techniques are new, Accomplice says something important in an interesting way. Derksen uses these vehicles to comment on many issues which are faced by millennials; pieces like The Man From Mars Tries Coca, Cat Fracks, gate, and the tap running speak to very topical issues in an innovative way.
All in all, Accomplice is a fantastic collection of meaningful pieces, and I’m excited to read what Derksen writes next.
M.C. Danzinger is an Edmonton poet and translator. He holds a BA in Japanese from the University of Alberta.
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