Child of Saturday
In these poems about Ghana, where the author lived for eight months, history and geography are liberally deployed, but these details leave the reader with only a shallow impression of the country. What is most clearly evoked is a certain straining, toward urgency or authenticity, which momentarily finds its target in West Africa.
Taylor tends to be prosy and over-earnest; whether the subject matter is mundane or extraordinary, one has the feeling of being lectured. In “What they are doing,” he describes the government’s disruptive slum-clearing preparations for Ghana’s 50th anniversary, but his description quickly turns mawkish: “The woman I saw today without a shop, without/a home, half-asleep, cradling her nursing baby,/no money for kente, her nipple hanging/huge and moist just above her baby’s mouth/and no shame in her eyes or mine or anyone’s around –/this woman will be swept away with the rest?” There are, of course, less forced, more joyful moments, but they are undercut by the overall humourlessness of the chapbook.
More than anything else Child of Saturday is a work of reportage, with Taylor as foreign correspondent. This is not a shortcoming in and of itself, but Taylor does not really demonstrate any awareness of the potential pitfalls of such a position. The poems do not even acknowledge, let alone play with, his role as an outsider. (Daniel Marrone)
Chapbook, Rob Taylor, 1744 Parker Street, Vancouver, BC, V5L 2K8 roblucastaylor.com, $5