January 9, 2009

The Hockey Player Sonnets by John B. Lee

Back in 2008, I raved about an unorthodox hockey book, Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems . It was a collection of Randall Maggs poetry. Though each poem was written individually, when put altogether in the right order, Maggs created a brilliant look at the life and career of one of hockey's most famous players, Terry Sawchuk.

That book was put out by Brick Book. Well it turns out Penumbra Press had already experimented in combining the worlds of hockey and poetry. The Hockey Player Sonnets was released first back in 1991, with the Overtime Edition coming out in 2003.

Buy The Book: Amazon.ca - Chapters - Amazon.com

The book features the poetry of John B. Lee. In the world of poetry, he's really big. He has won over 60 international awards for his work. He has a masters in English and teaches at the University of Windsor in southern Ontario. He also serves as a visiting professor and a very-in-demand guest speaker at a number of universities and private schools across North America. And he's written over 40 books.

But he's not just some academic hoitytoity. No, he is a poet of the people. And given his adolesence, you can see how he formed that way.

Lee is a good ol' Canadian boy, born and raised on a farm in a little know southern Ontario town of Highgate. He grew up like any other Canadian kid, including loving hockey.

Many of his poems are about hockey as a youth, reminiscingwith odes about games on the frozen pond, playing keep away from the dog with the puck, table top hockey and lamenting about the having to shovel out the outdoor rink yet again.

He moves on to much more mature topics, as he grows from his adolescent look back to his young adult and later adult memories of the game. The book contains rich elegies to players past and evocative imagery all while exploring the game of our lives.

As I said about Nightwork: The Sawchuk Poems, I'm not much of a poetry fan, but there is some good reading here. I can appreciate several poems in particular for what they are, although I do not find the book flows together nicely to form a grander picture a la Nightwork.

There is a good chance you that this text book will be your university text book if you take a class in a post-secondary education class, either in English or Canadian Studies classes. I had this book back a few years ago when I took a Canadian Studies class from Simon Fraser University. We had to look at how the author's work further cements popular myths in our man-made culture of hockey worship in our country and questioning how these myths effect masculinity and gender.

Yeah, it was a pretty dry class. I think I would have far better enjoyed the book in more recreational reading. And you might too. So check out The Hockey Player Sonnets today.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  May 13, 2013 at 2:22 PM  

thanks for the review, you might consider checking out my latest prose work, You Can Always Eat the Dogs: the hockeyness of ordinary men. It received a 5 star rating on the Good Reads web site.

all good things, John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Brantford, Poet Laureate of Norfolk and author of The Hockey Player Sonnets: Overtime Edition

Anonymous,  May 13, 2013 at 2:23 PM  

thanks for the review, you might consider checking out my latest prose work, You Can Always Eat the Dogs: the hockeyness of ordinary men. It received a 5 star rating on the Good Reads web site.

all good things, John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Brantford, Poet Laureate of Norfolk and author of The Hockey Player Sonnets: Overtime Edition

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