Last night I finished, sometimes laughing out loud, one of the most delicious books I’ve read in a while: the SONGBOOK FOR HAUNTED BOYS AND GIRLS by Wayne McNeill
, published by Smithcraft Press (www.SmithCraftPress.com).
Since I am only a passionate reader and not a professional critic, I can’t give you clever stuff about what the poet meant by what or why McNeill writes these poems in prose (well it’s called prose because he doesn’t give us line breaks). I don’t even care what you call them.
The fact is that the book is magical. You can read it in installments, put it down (if you can) and pick it up again when you have a moment. More than likely you won't be able to stop once you started.
Reading the SONGBOOK FOR HAUNTED BOYS AND GIRLS I became a neighbour in a small community somewhere in Toronto, Canada, called ‘the Danforth’. I lived in McNeill’s head for the duration and met an assortment of oddball people and sat on park benches, perusing, musing. And ‘living in McNeill’s head’ meant that I acquired a certain detachment, humanity, gentleness, a sense of the ridiculous and a sense of humour, as well as a deep love for Fanny who appears whenever she feels like it, as cats tend to do. I also met Mademoiselle Vague:IN AN AIRPORT LOUNGE
I wrote a two-line poem on a napkin and slid it over. “Thank you, kind sir,” said Mademoiselle Vague. “I like to have something to read on the plane.”
His publisher said it to perfection, so I’ll quote him, “Yet there’s a lightness of touch about his writing. It’s as quiet and unassuming as a summer rain. Old loves, old lusts, old books, young wine, a meal with friends. Mc Neill’s pieces celebrate the simple, the quotidian, the sacredness of sunlight in the late afternoon.”
You have to listen/read carefully or you miss it. All his poems are conversations with the ‘God of small things’. POET RISES
Poet rises from his sickbed and whispers to himself, “Beloved strip plaza, beloved car dealership, beloved parkette and library.”CRAVEN ARMS STATION, THE WELSH BORDERS
A railway track overgrown with grass, weeds, and wildflowers. Evidently, I’ll be a little late.BEAR
Bear wasn’t a biker though he hung out with bikers and rode a Harley. In other words, he didn’t belong to a club. When his ‘old lady’ gave him the boot, he walked into the Black Swan Tavern with his arms around a big potted plant. No, it wasn’t marijuana, just a harmless, suburban houseplant. “Listen here,” said Bear, “I want you to take care of this. Water it twice a week and spray the leaves once in a while.”HOMETOWNS
It’s always raining when we visit our hometowns: a part of the charm I suppoe, and the melancholy. And it being November, the leaves are off the trees and blown to the curbside. A sketchbook and a piece of charcoal is all one can say about it.
There are so many (in fact ALL of them, not one misses) that I have to stop. Do get this book, pour yourself your favourite comforter, curl up and enjoy. I haven’t had so much fun reading in a long time. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wayne McNeill was born, raised, and continues to live in Toronto, Ontario. His poems and short prose pieces first appeared in various Canadian magazines and periodicals as well as four chapbook including Angels Have No hearts and Lola. His writing has also been represented in several anthologies, most recently The Dominion of Love. The Greek neighbourhood he calls home, widely known as the Danforth, has been a source of inspiration for over thirty years.