Please join us for the launch of …
West Coast Line 53
Murdered and Missing Women
Edited by Anne Stone and Amber Dean
With presentations or readings by
Reg Johanson, Larissa Lai, Sachiko Murakami, Lora McElhinney, Renee Rodin, and others…
Tuesday, October 23rd at 7pm
319 West Hastings, 2nd Floor
Free! All welcome.
For more information write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Henighan has a piece in Geist about Rob Allen, his one-time teacher, my good friend. The direction of the piece is pretty much apparent in the title, “Traitor’s Dirge,” and byline (Henighan’s name has been made less for his literary fiction than for the way, in short essay style, he strafes Can Lit’s no-fly zones.) It’s not that Henighan doesn’t have a point. He does. Rob did love America and pop-culture and he loved a good literary line, however long. At times, the esoteric quality of his writing landed its punches far from the gut. Preferring the eye, say. Or what’s behind it.
For a study in the local, emotional power, and quiet perfection, I’d recommend Henighan play catch up by reading the sonnets in Standing Wave, a collection that’s among Rob’s best.
While Henighan does have his point, it’s trivial and expressed meanly: the form Henighan’s dirge takes is a funnel, and all of the broad and generous observations he has about Rob spiral down into a final dismissal of much of Rob’s work. “Traitor’s Dirge” doesn’t strike me as particularly honest or fair. Reading it, I get the same sense I do when reading much of Henighan’s work. Whatever Henighan looks at is an excuse for him to further elaborate himself.
It’s unfortunate that Rob died early. If he’d lived longer, maybe Henighan would have had the chance, and the grace, to kill his mentor off before the man himself died.