NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
ROB MCLENNAN: NAME, AN ERRANT
Stride Publications
4b Tremayne Close
Devoran
Cornwall
TR3 6QE
UK ISBN 1 905024 06 1
8.50

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ROB MCLENNAN: NAME, AN ERRANT

Where is the place for the poet in society? The erudite author, with his poetry published in over 200 magazines around the world and numerous books to his credit, knows where it was once, long ago. In his poem GLENGARRY he tells:

			the poet
	second only to the chief, one 
	stripe down
		on the tartan
In the acknowledgements section he gives thanks to publisher Rupert Loydell:
for asking for the damn thing
the damn thing being a collection of more than 40 poems from one of the most prolific and hardworking poets in Canada.

The production of NAME, AN ERRANT is almost a match made in heaven. In one of his own poems LEARNING TO WALK published in A CONFERENCE OF VOICES (Shearsman) the publisher Loydell wrote:

	I pick up stones from the pavement
	and run up other people's front paths.
	. . . 
	I am looking for things to amaze me
The Canadian writer as requested produces the things to amaze. His first poem JULIET IS THE NAME OF A WOUND begins on a romantic note:
	there are letters written never deep enough
	the gold of her bracelet

	insurance men put their recycling at the curb
presumably insured to the hilt like Wallace Stevens; another poet who liked to amaze and play the long metaphor for all its worth. The second poem SEEMLY; A SERIES, tells us more about the technique involved here. It's a method honed and championed by the publisher. This marriage of poetic minds continues:
	even discount stores have their distinguished 
	mark-up

	made up of one unrelated phrase against 
	another, seemingly 

	& love
But SWEET FLOWERS STANDING IN THE AIR is a barbed bouquet:
	the wedding proceeds at its 
	own snails pace 

	i make my own band-aid
	for my finger 
Parts of COMMON KNOWLEDGE are reminiscent of another great American poet whose style sits well with the aforementioned Stevens:
	in a country born does not necessarily 
	make 

	steam rising from manholes, smoke

	a person 
e e cummings of course.

The collection is split into 5 sections with most of the action taking place in Canada and the USA in the early part of the book. In the later stages there's an Irish sojourn and finally there's metrics a section that brings the volume to a close and the gentle reader closer to the poet's roots and family in Ottawa. Again from GLENGARRY:

	war medals     pictures
	his lungs      & mustard gas
	1918  released from hospital

	to come back home   /   another

	filthy habit
With its snug square shape and vibrant art brut cover painting by Alan Davie this book has an almost mystical feel to it. It's a pleasure to hold, to open at random, to flick through, to pull the rabbits from their hats. In his poem FOR DOUG JONES the poet writes:
	the poems will come, he says, once 
	the wood gets cut

	he captures the hard, thin 
	enterprise 
	. . . 
	when the trees look like bones
and that's the pioneering spirit of it really. The poet and the publisher are both well practised in the art of coppicing and the end result is a standalone collection of fresh and sapling poetry with air and room enough to breathe, to grow; poetry with a space for the winds of change to blow without destroying the damn thing the fragile poetic future.

By the look of it, Stride is going places. Buy one and go with.

reviewer: Gwilym Williams.