John B. Lee
A School Called Normal
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Mosaic Press published John B. Lee’s book Into a Land of Strangers: Documentary Poems in 2019 in which he explores his own ancestry which involves the tumultuous decades of China in the late nineteenth and early twentieth Century. A School Called Normal: Poems & Stories extends the Poet’s personal history of his own youth in small town rural Ontario.
“I was born and raised a fifth generation scion of an agricultural family living on a multi-purpose farm in southwestern Ontario deep in the heart of an anti-intellectual culture where intelligence and book learning were prized, although always suspect. Three of my mother’s favourite phrases were “Who do you think you are? Why do you say ‘I” so often?” And, “Always be sure to hide your light under a bushel.”
…My learning began in the era of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ and ended in the age of postmodernism and deconstruction. The bridges of pedagogy were burning behind me while new ones were being built in my path. My last year in elementary school came at the end of one-room classrooms and at the start of consolidation. I walked a mile to school… I attended secondary school where cadets were compulsory for all male students… Mine was the age of ‘the strap’ and the ‘knuckle crack ruler’… By the time I graduated high school my teachers were warned off by the zeitgeist of a new more lenient era. “Never trust anyone over thirty’” became the mantra of the adolescent ruing class.”
From the Preface by John. B. Lee
John B. Lee is widely acknowledged as one of Canada’s the most prolific and accomplished literary figures. He is the author or editor of over seventy books, including two best-sellers, That Sign of Perfection, poems and stories on the game of hockey and, Smaller Than God, words of spiritual longing. His works have been published internationally and have been translated into French, Spanish, Korean and Chinese. He has won numerous prizes and awards, including the $10,000 CBC Literary Award for Poetry, the People’s Poetry Award, Poet Laureate of Brantford in Perpetuity, Honorary Poet Laureate of Norfolk County for life.