Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Wild Horses

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Wild Horses

Article excerpt

Rob Mclennan, Wild Horses (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2010), 86 pp. Paper. £13.50. ISBN 978-0-88864-535-7.

The poems in Wild Horses stem from Rob Mclennan's time as writer in residence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and the presence of landscape in the text is palpable. One particular section, dedicated to Erin Mouré, is entitled 'map of edmonton' and carries meditations on many local areas such as Garneau and Belgravia. The poem 'map of edmonton (rossdale flats)' develops into a discussion of the very process of orienting and responding to place: 'what does a map do / but place / all else; you know / where you were / when you started' (p. 53). Mclennan seeks to understand the placing of 'all else' in this collection but is continually drawn to the interweaving of the universal amongst languages of geographic specificity. We hear of fissures, stones, dust and rivers amongst a 'sulfuric country' (p. 24).

These are impressionist poems that give you images and reference points unmoored from their context, perhaps mimicking the experience of arriving in a new city. The narrative voice is spare and somewhat disjointed as the poems themselves become landscape-influenced environments. Each poem's language and layout seems to encourage breathing through and around each nugget of experience. Titles engage with the materiality of writing and travel, reflection and composition, from notebooks to the stark outline of 'poem that echoes an earlier poem'. …

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