Acceptance Speech by rob mclennan
Published by Phafours Press, 2014.
Much like how a well-manicured movie trailer pieces together a story from distant scenes, Acceptance Speech gathers four rob mclennan poems into its own micro chapbook. Each of these pieces appears reprinted from elsewhere and shares a recent enough timeline to comingle with ease, though a deeper read suggests that these were always meant to link into an evolving suite.
I sense a strand of concern for the welfare of language, a tiny arc struggling for the sentence to assert itself. Paralleled with a seasonal thaw, might mclennan's exertion reflect the unsure creative space between manuscripts, or a gentle probing around new ideas? “Biopsy: linguistic. I am not ambition: all my roads repeat, interior, repeat. Winning. Snow-branch weight a study, low to ground. This brutal, excessive heat.” The paradoxes at work in “Acceptance Speech” draw attention to the creative process as layered against the more ambivalent course of nature. That “Sick leave,” follows with a chain of interrupted thoughts, holed up indoors and resentful, furthers this question of writing as a natural or forced behaviour.
Beyond what’s written, the consideration extends to what’s articulated – the breath and speech that propel words into landscapes. “What remains of winter; spring,” and “Prairie montage,” breach the boundaries of these domains, now overlapping.
Laden, comma. Heavy. Common
thread. A snowy onslaught, pleather.
Coats. Backed-up, curved, a repro-
duction. Side-long. Snow-sweats,
sidewalks bathe. Reluctant. Margin,
marginalia. Attempt to see if
sentences can breathe, take root,
grow limbs. A shiny tension. We borrow,
shoplift, hoard. Spring.
As with this excerpt from the former, “Prairie montage,” presses toward a new terrain – informed as much by imagination as by elements. With the “constant, consonants” and “gymnastic voice” fine-tuned, the birth-cycle of Acceptance Speech results in an altered environment, neither reliably tangible nor abstract. The fragments in mclennan’s poetry, often the spoils for interpretive avenues, appeal on a linguistic level but better serve this underlying convergence. It is in omission – between his fragments – that mclennan oscillates his attention, coaxing these separate plains of existence into gentle and blurry juxtaposition.
Sometimes a trailer proves better than its film; a whirlwind dip into another world, its tantalizing promise well-preserved. Acceptance Speech spreads a considerable set of ideas over such a brief read and could be the prologue for an ongoing meditation. The end of “Prairie montage,” not only gives the chapbook’s title another dimension, it leaves the reader at a rich culmination, wondering “what’s next?”.
(This charming little x-book is part of a series of seven, available at Phafours Press for the ludicrously reasonable price of a dollar per title.)