Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Review: The Last House, by Michael Kenyon

A fabulous collection, The Last House, British Columbian Michael Kenyon's third full-length volume (following Rack of Lamb and The Sutler), wrestles with conceptions of "self" and "otherness" from the get-go in its finely crafted divagations:

"In a new country you neither / belong nor don't but hope to guess your soul's / purpose."

Kenyon, born in the UK, came home from away in 1967; thus, issues of emigration in the lost and foundering spirit of settling sinuously dominate these exquisitely shaped reflections, combining the physical vernacular with the visionary spectacular.

Story continues below advertisement

What makes a homeland a home; how can a house turn upsy-turvily into a haven for sorrow and joy; and, most keenly, why has "the climax of the capitalist dream and the urge (nostalgia?) for a simpler life . . . a small house, a smaller house, no house" driven citizens of this grievous world to the fringes of muddle-class despair? Here's What We Have:

… Exile breathes in the fat shadows of trees. I give up listing my different selves, measuring the distance from outside to inside, from urban to rural. The thump of a grouse intersects the jet's thin jazz. The walls of this world are quite soft and rain on palm fronds whispers like people coming through the forest whose floor unleashes green heads of new ferns. I keep going over the same ground. Ghosts, music, all under wraps.

Contributing reviewer and In Other Words blogger Judith Fitzgerald lives in Northern Ontario's Almaguin Highlands. She is completing her 30th work, a poetry collection provisionally titled Rogue Lightning, slated for 2010 release.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to