Review of Botero’s Beautiful Horses
From Elizabeth Cran , The Guardian, Charlottetown, PEI, October 2009

From Ireland to Latin America

Jan Conn’s Botero’s Beautiful Horses (Brick Books) is not at all what one might expect from a scientist “whose research focuses on mosquitoes, their evolution and ecology”.  One’s first impression is one of abundance – indded over-abundance – of forms and colours.  Here are a few samples:

“Below, navy blue mountains and serge convolutions resembling images of brains”

“They paint body and face red with vegetable dyes, chant their magical songs –
The whole expedition coming back as pumas, pale-throated sloths, howler monkeys, long-tailed weasels
in the next life,…

“The flamboyant cotillo blossoms spontaneously ignite,
Then her ginger hair.  She fingers lace
imagines herself in another place and time.”

And so on, on nearly every page.

Some of Jan Conn’s other themes complete the phantasmagoria.  Meso-American gods, legends, and customs, tropical weather, the Amazon river and region, sun, moon, and stars…Scattered in among these are glimpses of her father and mother, and the man (or men) she loves.  The whole mixture is like a number of dreams loosely joined together, some being nightmares.  The inflruence of Surrealism is also very much apparent.

Although these poems are not for everybody, they repay slow, careful reading.  They will stretch the imagination, which is one of the things good poetry can – and should – do.

E.E. Cran, Saint John, New Brunswick

October 19, 2009

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