It may seem like Mansfield is fishing off the company dock when the first notice of The Sleep Orchard, by Amy Dennis, is written by rob mclennan, who also has a book out with Mansfield this year. But this review is really just a continuation of the work rob does all year long—documenting the small press world and telling us all about it. Between interviewing writers and reviewing books, no other writer in the country comes close to matching rob’s engagement with Canadian literature. Why wouldn’t he also write about the first book by somebody as talented as Amy Dennis?

  His latest book, Essays in the Face of Uncertainties, came out of the enforced isolation that Covid brought to Canadians in 2020. In these very personal meditations, rob tries to make sense of the unfolding pandemic in the quiet company of his wife and two daughters. As the country goes into lockdown, rob naturally turns to his library and brings writers from around the world into his narrative. His wide reading allows him to bring a larger conversation into his family’s isolation, and then share it with readers of this book. He shows us how ideas and books bring us together, even as circumstances force us apart.

 That isolation is captured beautifully in the cover photo of these essays. You see the love of a family at play, even as they look out to the world from the home that Covid turned into an aquarium. That photo was taken by Stephen Brockwell, whose book Immune to the Sacred was also published this year by Mansfield.

The poetry world in Canada is small and the company dock is necessarily large but there is an incredible diversity of talent represented here that cannot be diminished by proximity. Because rob mclennan writes about everyone, he naturally wrote about the latest book by Stephen Brockwell, where he highlights the almost scientifically rigorous observation of poems that are also lyrical and deeply human. Stephen’s book should be read in full because he is a senior writer at the top of his game, but rob’s review can be a useful introduction if you are not familiar with Stephen’s work. If nothing else, a visit to the review page will also give you an opportunity to see rob mclennan looking quite masculine in his skirt. That has to be worth a click.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply