About the Poems
by rob mclennan
“Notes for a Sad Phoenician” – This can be said, in part, to be my riff off the works of Alberta poet Robert Kroetsch, specifically two of his 1980s books, The Sad Phoenician and Excerpts from the Real World, both of which later fell into his Completed Field Notes (1989; 2002). Over the past few years, I’ve been more interested in the direct statement, after watching just how far one can go with the line break, and the deliberate fragment, in so much of my previous work. After discovering, for example, the works of Sarah Manguso, Juliana Spahr and Rachel Zucker, I seem to have come full circle from the sentence back again, through all the breaks that come between. And what happens to the accumulation of those same direct (indirect) statements?
More directly, the piece speaks to my particular young lady, who claims descent from the Phoenicians. Over a few brief days, the poem nearly wrote itself, turning around from Kroetsch’s narrator being sad, to my narrator writing out against her sadness. All of Kroetsch’s best poems are about women, and it seems mine as well, although all my best (including my shorter poems here) are about just one. There is a lot of space to work through, in that space between what is said, never said, should be said, be never said, or even left alone.