My favourite Montreal book...

A Rocking Chair and other poems

By Carmine Starnino

A review of A Rocking Chair And Other Poems by A. M. Klein

Published on November 1, 2005

A Rocking Chair And Other Poems
A. M. Klein

A hard choice, because I believe books can be distinctively Anglo-Quebec in spirit but not in setting. But I’ll err on the side of specificity and recommend A Rocking Chair and other poems, A.M. Klein’s third book, published in 1948, and the one that secured his reputation as a major Canadian poet. The poems immerse themselves in Québécois life and history, and combine a vivid sense of landscape (both urban and rural) with a fascination for the exhilarating impurities of joual-or what Klein called Montreal’s “double-melodied vocabulaire.” Klein’s curiosity, which extended from rocking chairs to Mount Royal to snowshoers to sugaring-offs, was matched by an immense versatility: the collection is a mix of accomplished free-verse with more formal experiments. At their best, the urbane elegance and zest of these poems, their light touch and deep charge of feeling, create the sights and sounds of everyday life re-imagined into lovely ballad-like sagas, as in “Lookout: Mount Royal.” The long and short of it? Klein’s “biliguefact” treatment of Montreal-earthbound and visionary, tradition-rife and modern, meticulous and sensuous-has rarely been bettered in any genre. mRb

Carmine Starnino is a Montreal poet whose latest book of poems is "With English Subtitles" (Gaspereau 2004).

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