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Poetry Canadian

wild horses

by (author) rob mclennan

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2010
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2010
    List Price
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    Publish Date
    Feb 2010
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Cast during his year in the U of A's writer in residency, wild horses is Ottawan rob mclennan's deep lyrical engagement with Edmonton, Alberta. He sees the new terrain through his peculiar, sympathising lens--characterised by impassioned tones that range from brusque to tender. There is something of the magpie in him: nothing escapes his subtle gaze, his flighty wit, his voracious gleaning of experience. His supple lines meander and flit over scapes of love, home, family, and literature, rewarding the magpie-minded with a lucid estrangement to things both unfamiliar and familiar.

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 (with Ottawa poet Stephen Brockwell) and the Ottawa poetry annual ottawater (, 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, and he often posts reviews, essays, rants and other nonsense at

rob mclennan's profile page


  • Unknown, The Alcuin Society Citations for Excellence in Book Design in Canada - Poetry, Honourable Mention
  • Unknown, Ottawa Xpress: Best of Ottawa - Best work of fiction/non-fiction/poetry by local writer

Editorial Reviews

"Rob's frenetic energy expresses itself in continous creative reinvention and this recent collection is no exception. A cautionary note to the reader, do not allow the lower-case font and economies of scale deceive you." Anne Burke, Prairie Review, Spring 2010

"Arguably his generation's finest practitioner, mclennan's myriad strengths predominantly lie in his life-long quest to stay afloat in language's slippery straits, its treacherous depths, its perilously heady spindrifts where polyphony's the aim and compression's the game. New readers step into the flux, the flow, the undertow of a mclennan 'poem' in much the same way landlubbers brave an ocean's waves on a wing and a prayer: Half the challenge involves conquering each cresting onslaught, the other half resides in coming safe home to common ground (buttressed by the notion the captain's skill knows no bounds)." Judith Fitzgerald, The Globe and Mail, May 12, 2010

"[wild horses is] an exercise in understanding a new place stripped of verbose, technicolour depiction. Like the titular 'wild horses' these poems explore the difficulty of wrangling words to convey the sense of things." Mike Landry, Telegraph-Journal, February 27, 2010

"Mclennan is a poet of place, always finding his voice out of the material of his surroundings, the continuity of its existence through history.... By filtering the personal through the richness of history, mclennan elevates both, extending 'a sprinkling' of himself into the solid, unchanging strata of history and the literary heritage of a place while making the 'really interesting parts personal.'... He writes in terse 'clipped lines' as he calls them, usually trying to bind each thought to a single line rather than 'cut it in half and stagger it onto the next line.' The effect is one of solemnity; each line seems to exist as a small image, a small whole with its own completeness that adds to the mystery of the rest." Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston, Ottawa Xpress, September 2010 [Full review at]

"...the presence of landscape in the text is palpable...the most 'natural' of these poems are urban meditations drawing as much on the bars and streets as the rivers and birds. It is apt that the fleshy, veined earth is echoed in the ecological paper this volume is printed on, framing a tactile engagement with language and place." Will Smith, University of Nottingham, British Journal of Canadian Studies Vol.25 No.1 2012

"Spicer's theories offer a second way into mclennan's poems for the partially initiated, since he posits an irreconcilable rift between the poet and poem. The poem is, essentially, foreign territory to the poet, and is placed into his or her comprehension only through the dictation of an intermediary. The poet is never on home-turf with the poem. Significantly, the central theme in mclennan's collection is exile, as it is the product of his stint as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta.... What develops throughout the first half of the collection is a sense of the melancholy and mundanity of exile." Ryan Porter, The Bull Calf, accessed May 9, 2011 [Full review at]

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