The Animal Library


110 pages
ISBN 0-919688-62-4
DDC C811.6





Reviewed by Susan McKnight

Susan McKnight is an administrator of the Courts Technology Integrated Justice Project at the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.


The Animal Library is an intriguing collection of poems definitely
requiring more than one reading to be fully appreciated. The first
section relates to images and fantasies resulting from Camlot’s
exposure to his father’s work as a furrier in Montreal. His
imagination thrives on the experiences he had witnessing his father and
other employees at work scraping pelts, stitching furs, and engaging in
related tasks, resulting in some realistic and some surreal visions. A
strange but fervent love for both animals and his father surfaces
through these poems.

The section entitled “Kit Schuber” shows the development of a
fictional character named Kit in various situations and displays a
brilliant mastery of English vocabulary. He switches words line by line
to create new meanings, new scenarios, and completely opposing ideas. He
makes use of various poetic forms, from free verse to rhyming couplets,
with profound effect.

“Penny Pleasures” contains poems that describe everything from
nonsense subjects to real-life characters in a boarding house, all with
a vibrant clarity rooted in an incredible choice of words. There is a
sly, intelligent humor lying within this poetry.

The final section, “Pillar of Fire” (subtitled “All Memories Are
Now Filtered Through the A’mber Entry of Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary),
is more reminiscent of the free-flowing verses written by Ferlinghetti.

The author of this exciting debut collection teaches Victorian
literature at Concordia University in Montreal.


Camlot, Jason., “The Animal Library,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,