Small Horses & Intimate Beasts
Julie Rekai Rickerd is a Toronto broadcaster and public relations
Quebec’s Michel Garneau, like many of his colleagues, is a Renaissance man. He is a poet, “man of the theatre,” radio announcer, author-composer-performer. His latest collection of poems, Small Horses & Intimate Beasts, was first published in French in 1977.
Garneau’s poems are a joy to read because, although they address serious, universal, and personal themes, they all express “his pleasure, his delight, in life.” His “search for happiness” is combined with his “rage to live.” He always manages to find the appropriate yet commonplace image to illustrate the human condition and the ever-present proposition of fallibility and death. Garneau acknowledges the inevitability of death but refuses to be depressed by it or to allow it to dampen his love of life’s spirit and adventure.
The original work in French is printed on one page and the English translation on the page opposite, a practice that is an added dimension for the bilingual reader. This format is a bonus, not a necessity, in this case, as Robert McGee’s translation is faithful in every respect to the original.
Garneau’s mastery of the language, his musicality and inspiring rhythm give pleasure in both languages. His poetry neither has nor requires conventional punctuation. It flows along its merry way, exploring the many dilemmas that confront man and beast on this planet. Garneau’s message is loud and clear throughout: despite all odds, life is certainly well worth living.