Review of Unsettled in Atlantic Books Today 47, Spring 2005, p.24

by Paul Butler

Zachariah Wells' debut collection Unsettled is bold and provocative in its depiction of nature, alcohol, working lives and the Canadian north. In "Reaching the Mountains," Wells describes a trek towards a mountain range that never gets any closer. Finally, it seems as though the landscape is playing a joke on him: "The glacier/That snaked between two peaks, a tongue/Between stone cheeks, mocked me/As I turned around."

Wells, a native of Prince Edward Island who now lives in Nova Scotia, writes with a vibrant and idiosyncratic clarity. In "Jack and Jill, Having Climbed the Hill, Come Down Again," the poet gives a cruel twist to the nursery rhyme. "A sticky brown flow from his crown/And Jill, come astumblin laughter--".

Wells's vision of the world is one of cruel and constant disharmony. In the short poem, "Scavengers," "A bored raven picks white bones/At the garbage dump./A white man selects a dark/Mate outside the screaming bar."