The organizer of small press fairs, readings, workshops, editor of books and poetry websites, writer of poetry and essays, and reviews, interviewer, rob mclennan is the unstoppable poetry engine of Ottawa. I am impressed with rob because he is a promoter and supporter of poetry like no one else I’ve ever encountered, particularly poetry by Ottawa writers and particularly poetry that goes beyond the traditional narrative form ubiquitous in Canadian writing today.
I hear people whine and complain about the lack of attention given to Canadian poetry, but very few of us do something about it except perhaps to promote our own writing.
I had the good fortune recently to get a sneak peak at rob’s upcoming essays, “subverting the lyric: essays,” which will be published by ECW Press. In fifteen essays, he sheds light on writers, publishers, and the various communities that have existed over the years in Canada’s literary community, but that many of us might not have heard of or have heard very little about. People like Jon Paul Fiorentino, Meredith Quartermain, and Barry McKinnon for example, or writing groups like TADS a kind of offshoot of TISH in Vancouver. He discusses poetic form like the prairie long poem and themes like geography. It is clear from looking at these essays, rob’s blog entries and various articles he’s written over the years that the man has a far-reaching knowledge and interest about Canadian poetry. There is so much to learn. Some would find this daunting, yet rob continues to learn and to share what he’s learned with those who take the time to listen.
When I go through the various things that rob has done, the main thread I see running through all of it is an attempt to make and be part of a community, to share and to support those who, like rob, want to learn and discover, push limits in their writing.
This is just a small homage to someone who deserves so much more.