Captain Neal MacDougal & The Naked Goddess: A Demi-Prophetic Work as a Sonnet-Series
Michael O. Nowlan was a teacher and writer in Oromocto, New Brunswick.
When Milton Acorn sold his carpenter tools and took up the typewriter as a professional poet, little did he realize the impact he would have on the Canadian literary scene. Not one to side with popular issues for the sake of following the crowd, Acorn “did his own thing” and established a strong poetic utterance. Unfortunately, in recent years Acorn’s voice has been silent. Captain Neal MacDougal & The Naked Goddess is his first book in five years.
In this one, Acorn works a series of sonnets into a tale of the sea that is part historical, part legendary. Captain Neal MacDougal, “who was my ancestor,” is given the mythical status of a captain whose feats are great. He travels the seas taking on all the adventures known to such travellers at the turn of this century. In so doing, he creates a sensitive narrative.
Since one of Acorn’s strengths is his descriptive words, it is not surprising to see his poetic imagination blend with history and fiction to develop an almost mystical progression. The sea, whose contradictions of wrath and beauty are constant, is the centre of this tale while the supreme power, who is witnessed in a woman, is vivid and natural. Acorn’s vision is plausible; his tale, a good one. He indicates that these verses will form the basis of a play he plans to write, so, perhaps, Acorn the poet is truly back. Since he has returned to live on his native Prince Edward Island, the muse, no doubt, is favouring him.