Poems from the Blue Horizon

by Rob McLennan,
ISBN: 0921411340

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Brief Reviews
by Judith Fitzgerald

From the Ottawa poet rob mclennan (a.k.a. the prolific author of a dozen-plus chapbooks or the precocious mini-mogul of the small-press publication set) comes a slim yet impressive double sampling of the up-and-comer's better work, Poems from the Blue Horizon (Broken Jaw Press, 32 pages, $5.50 paper including shipping from MAP Productions, Box 596, Stn. A, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A6) and the self-published we live at the end of the 20th century (above/ground press, n.p., $7.00 paper including shipping from above/ground press, R.R. #1, Maxville, ON, K0C 1T0).

Despite Mr. mclennan's irritating tendency to rush to print and post every last word he writes, the lack of editorial spit-and-polish (more often than not) works in his favour, primarily because the preternaturally gifted wordsmith's rough-cut gems sparkle with a kind of substantiality and unsentimentality so often lacking among the plague of Canadian poeseurs currently infesting the be-all/end-all "marketplace".

In "the marilyn monroe lookalike/ turns her head & smiles" (from Blue Horizon), Mr. mclennan deftly grafts lines from a host of careerists at the popular-culture trough while simultaneously paying poetic homage to George Bowering, Jack Spicer, Frank O'Hara, et al.: "...waiting for her sleek white body, sitting/ two hours in a trailer. unfamiliar hands,/ applying makeup like a plaster cast, tight like mummification. tar/ and white gauze. in the mirror/ losing herself./ her name left on the trailer floor/ like a haircut...."

Last June, Mr. mclennan installed himself in the window of Ottawa's Octopus Books in a brazen and telling effort to attract attention to both himself and the paradoxical aspects of the creative act, slyly anteing up for the new millennium, boldly strutting his poetic stuff, serendipitously proving the solitary point of departure for the artist capable of distinguishing between performance-poetry spectacle and the objects of measured perception.

During that month he wrote we live at the end of the 20th century, an uneven collection, somewhat weakened by its intransigent rejection of standardized spelling and punctuation (yet undeniably strengthened by its command of language, control of the poetic line, and originality of both insight and outlook).

Probably, the tone of Mr. mclennan's ironic self-deprecation in "peter gzowskis voice" best exemplifies both the context and concerns of a generation on the pauperized edge of a compromised world gone missing: "...willing to learn the game of golf/ to be on a morning w/ peter gzowski...listening to peter gzowskis voice/ like an old uncles soothing charm...not a public washroom w/in 3 blocks/ & cbc radio on me again/ theres just no escaping it."

J. F.


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