Rob McLennan captures the value of location in ‘Poems for Lunch Poems at SFU’

Poems for Lunch Poems at SFU

Chapbook, rob mclennan, 36 pgs, above/ground press,, $5

A recent TVO documentary, Tripping the Rideau Canal, is a four-hour, real-time voyage down 27 kilometres of the titular waterway, with historical factoids sprinkled throughout. The vicarious ride is not dissimilar to enjoying a batch of rob mclennan’s poetry — but not because reading his chapbooks feels like four hours.

The poems in this book were produced for various outlets over the years, compiled here, presumably, for the Lunch Poems reading series at SFU in Vancouver. But they don’t drift too far apart from eachother, all tethered to landscape. Location is the paramount concern and there are few people present. “This human activity” is mentioned only distantly, as if it were a foreign concept.

The phrases in the poems are typically brief and enigmatic. In the collection’s opening poem, mclennan lays out an apt warning (and perhaps a challenge) prefacing the surprising work of inspecting one’s environment: “To break this open, / is to understand the weather.”