Sunday, September 02, 2012

Matthew Hall reviews A (short) history of l. (BuschekBooks) in Canadian Literature

Matthew Hall was good enough to review A (short) history of l. (BuschekBooks, 2011) in Canadian Literature, alongside recent titles by Stan Rogal and Erin Moure (see the full review here). Thanks, Matthew Hall! Thanks, Canadian Literature!

"I burn at both ends" seems a telling understatement from mclennan’s latest book, A (short) history of l, a series of love poems based on the ghazal. mclennan’s investigation into the history of love and the capacity of the individual to sustain and grow through love’s negotiations and trials is uniquely tied to the lyric. Early on, he underscores the enquiry of the book:

    I am interested in how lyricism
    bonds itself to our molecules.
    the insistence of light against
    insistence of dark.

mclennan’s poems work to explore the particularity of the moments in which the other becomes a part of oneself. "dictionary of touch" is one of the most profoundly lyrical and cadenced works in the collection, with an estranged sense of the capacity of love to open expansively to the meaning of small gestures. Through this poem, the idea of reciprocity and mutual understanding is incited:

    … we are shades
    of meaning, shadowing
    the other. the dictionary
    useless, for what
    we have figured out. what
    we already know.

The disparity between what we have learned and what we have to learn is part of the processional core of mclennan’s new book, an avid exploration of the materials, the moments, the changes we undergo through love. mclennan’s style courses through the collection; the thematic energy which he devotes to his poetic is exceedingly renewing. The poems are referential, meditative spaces in which the history of love is imagined through literary antecedents, subjective presences, and technological complexes, and pits mclennan’s love as testament to his development, as personal and poetic.

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