Composed in three sections, Glengarry is a return in writing to the landscape of rob mclennan’s youth and a headlong rush into the fractures, slippages and buried surfaces of what the text leaves undisclosed to him.
In “glengarry: open field (a postscripted journal)” the poet discovers that “the earth remembers every scratch & scar & step ever took, if you know where to look, how to ask in the way of assembling,” and to ask those questions of the emotional and physical landscapes of one’s youth is to discover that “history is written by everything that history forgets”; is “to half-open a story of what no longer exists”; to beg the question, “is this memory or romanticism”; to run the risk of becoming lost in the very attempt to reconstruct the elements of our past: “there is always the fear here of looking more back than ahead.” What mclennan finds on this quest is nothing more than “a portable violence of heritage & secrets.” What he discovers here, however, is that “we all live in imagined boundaries,” and that “if the story exists, i am living the language of it.”
The short reprise to his memory poem, “whiskey jack,” leads mclennan to ask: “what am I filled with, this quiet / conspiratorial talk, this body / of open wilderness, painted trees / & a history that functions / without markers / save seasons.”
Finally, in “avalanche,” the answer to mclennan’s rhetorical question, “where are you, heart?” appears in both its lyric and its epic voices: “the names of all my broken hearts are only names again” and “there is eventually a silence / there is history.” Amidst this “aesthetic of wonderful destruction” each new poem is “an illusion against destructive slide,” because “what else is human hope but momentarily borne.”
About the author
Born in Ottawa in 1970 at the late lamented Grace Hospital on Wellington Street near Parkdale Avenue, rob mclennan currently lives in directly between Ottawa`s Chinatown and Little Italy neighbourhoods, and was called "Centretown`s poet laureate" by David Gladstone in The Centretown Buzz in the mid-1990s. The author of twelve previous trade poetry collections in Canada and England, he has published poetry, fiction, interviews, reviews and columns in over two hundred publications in fourteen countries and in four languages, and done reading tours in five countries on two continents. The editor/publisher of above/ground press and the long poem magazine STANZAS (both founded in 1993), the online critical journal Poetics.ca (with Ottawa poet Stephen Brockwell) and the Ottawa poetry annual ottawater (ottawater.com), he edits the ongoing Cauldron Books series through Broken Jaw Press, edited the anthologies Evergreen: six new poets (Black Moss Press), side/lines: a new canadian poetics (Insomniac Press), GROUNDSWELL: the best of above/ground press, 1993-2003 (Broken Jaw Press) and Decalogue: ten Ottawa poets (Chaudiere Books), and runs the semi-annual ottawa small press book fair, which he co-founded in 1994, currently under the umbrella of the small press action network - ottawa (span-o), which he also runs. Fall 2007 sees the appearance of a new poetry collection with Ireland`s Salmon Publishing, a collection of literary essays appears with Toronto`s ECW Press, and a title for Vancouver publisher Arsenal Pulp Press, Ottawa: The Unknown City. His online home is at www.track0.com/rob_mclennan, and he often posts reviews, essays, rants and other nonsense at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com.