canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999


bury me deep in the green wood
rob mclennan
ECW, 1999.

In his 1998 book of essays Body Music, Dennis Lee wrote of Al Purdy, the granddaddy of the Canadian poetry scene: "[Purdy is] among the slowest developers in the history of poetry". Of course, Purdy didn't have Purdy to help him along. Such is the joy of life in the 1990s, where Canadian poets seem to age quicker, assisted as they have been by the previous waves of versifiers. 

Which brings us to rob mclennan, recent winner of the Air Canada Award for most promising Canadian writer under 30 (the only non-cash award administered by the Canadian Authors Association). bury me deep is mclennan's second book-packaged collection (chapbooks and anthology contributions not included), though it not his only release of the year (new mclennan titles are also appearing in 1999 from Broken Jaw Press and Talon Books). 

Someday let's not say soon [he did: spring 2000 - ed.] Purdy will give up the ghost. Southeastern Ontario (home territory to mclennan and Purdy) has a worthy inheritor in mclennan, who despite his relative youth is already functioning well above par. 

In Body Music, Lee writes of Purdy's "polyphony"; that is, his ability to mix different voices and jump with the silent ease of icebergs through the vast geological time and space that is Canada. Polyphony works to describe mclennan's poems, too. They are interior and exterior, grounded in the world of objects and in the world of the imagination. They are mature, big-hearted poems full of real feeling, humour, little bits of fairy dust and a dash of that ingredient that will make some of Purdy's poems last forever -- a wink and a nudge at the wonder of it all.

 

 

 

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