Tuesday, November 13, 2012

rob mclennan's above/ground chapbook, This, circular tower, is reviewed in Broken Pencil #57

Chris Landry was good enough to review my above/ground chapbook, This, circular tower (above/ground press, 2012) in Broken Pencil #57 (autumn 2012 issue). Thanks, Chris! There are a few copies still available, here, and copies of the Deborah Poe title I originally reworked, here, also. Although I admit to still not understanding why so many reviewers in Broken Pencil seem not to comprehend that not all folded/stapled are “zines.” Why can’t they call them chapbooks?

This, circular tower is as sparse and clean as the poems it contains. The cover image provides an entry point. It is an image from the mclennan family archive. Many of the poems invoke family history in a dry, chopped-up manner that suggests free association. In “Lineate,” mclennan lets drop fragments of sentences that bring to mind the geography of the prairies, great aunts and trees. It is this wistful looking-back where I enjoyed this the most. The barren expanse of the Canadian landscape is not unlike the gaps in memory in a family archive.
            At his best, mclennan alternates between the general and specific in an evocative and measured style like in the poem that gives this collection its title. Where I find some of these pieces lacking is where the words are just too general and the imagery too heavy-handed to give the reader much to hold on to. Or perhaps that was the point – it’s an attempt to capture the feeling of what is hard to capture: our fleeting memory.

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