Essays on Canadian Writing
'Mike Doyle's latest book, A Steady Hand, begins with a quotation from Joe Rosenblatt: "Last night I dreamt I had a beautiful hand". The hand becomes a metaphor for the creative process, one which for Doyle is a derivative but still a creative position. For this collection is, above all, controlled -- controlled in its language, its sources, its preoccupation with fact and organization. In "Adam at Evening", Doyle sees himself as a cataloguer, a poet who gives "a name, a gift, to each animal". This idea becomes a controlling fiction throughout the poem, though the poet admits at the end that "In the eyes / of my named animals I see / gathering darkness".'
The Malahat Review
'A Steady Hand is a good title for Mike Doyle's new collection, for its outstanding quality is the assurance and accomplishment of the poet's style. Doyle ranges from surrealist narrative to intimate love-poem, from loosely adapted translations of European poets to delicate lyrics of Canadian nature. While some readers may find the writing slightly detached and "academic", the majority will be impressed by the thorough intelligence and maturity of Doyle's craft, steeped as it is in the traditions of modernism. In poems like "Adam at Evening", Doyle shows himself at the height of his powers.'
The Windsor Star
'Reading A Strange Hand is a genuinely moving experience, for Doyle deftly brings in experience and apprehension while concentrating on the tiny miracles that occur every day. Some of his poems range into the territory of allusion, but even when he addresses subjects like Klee and Anna Akhmatova, he gracefully allows readers into his poems instead of shutting them out. "The Gloves" is a tour de force in itself and justifies the entire collection.'