Very good stuff.,
This review is from: Apparatus (Paperback)Don McKay, Apparatus (McLelland and Stewart, 1997)
I hesitate to call Don McKay a Canadian version of Hayden Carruth. For one thing, McKay hasn't been nearly as prolific. For another, Carruth has a much meaner streak of curmudgeonliness running through him that is positively delicious. Yet when I read Don McKay's wonderful poems, Carruth's name is the one I keep coming back to as the closest poetic equivalent to McKay's work. They both share a love of nature and the chops to communicate it; they both integrate modern sensibility into their poems with what seems minimal effort (and this is a very difficult thing for the nature poet to do); both release books that are guaranteed to charm your socks off. McKay, however, is a more (for lack of a more appropriate term) gentle poet.
Apparatus is Governor General award winner McKay's eighth book, and it is a beautiful thing. Two of its sections, especially, deserve mention: "Materiel," a long meditation on Cain after he has killed Abel, and "Three Eclogues," three decent-sized poems written in, well, the style one would expect given the title.
Apparatus was also a finalist for the Governor General's award (McKay's third nomination), but lost out to an equally deserving book (Dionne Brand's Land to Light On, also published by M&S). If you haven't yet discovered Don McKay, it will be worth your while to seek him out. If he can get a pave-the-earth person like me to stop and read nature poetry, imagine how good it will be for those who already love the stuff. ****