Monday 23 April 2018

Two Poems from "The Book of Smaller," by rob mclennan

Photo by Matthew Holmes

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include the poetry collection A perimeter (New Star Books, 2016), and the forthcoming How the alphabet was made (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2018). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books (with Christine McNair), The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics (, Touch the Donkey ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( He is “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, a former contributor to the Ploughshares blog, editor of my (small press) writing day, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at Here are two poems by him:

from The Book of Smaller

The book of smaller

Everything had to be broken. First, snow-people duel with hair dryers. East through the mouth. I am windowless. Echo. Repeat. The children, asleep. I’ve stew in the slow cooker. Focus now on what crumbles. Aleppo. You are history. It is painful to be so dismissed. A conversation on beauty. The fresh breath of airports, unsealed. The connection one has with the body. Look east, and kneel. The girls are still missing. What doesn’t, instead. I hate this. Boil down into nothing. Mother-of-pearl. The smallest space I can fathom.

Forty-seventh birthday

Along the horizon, a hole opens. How does the line move? The sentence? A jet-liner, manifest. To fence in a heartbeat. To barricade. What does lava protect? What is hidden. A history of volcanos on Mars. They accumulate. Swim so far upstream. Galloping. I would stroll home in the pitch. A hummingbird touches her hair. I would stumble. They banter, they bicker, they argue. Such dark is impossible. I want to surpass myself: sleep.

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