REVIEWS : : Sunday Afternoon
Sunday Afternoon is an American variant of the quest for the Grail, and retains traditional details of the story, such as the darkness of weather and mind at the journey's beginning, the temporal allegory(Sunday afternoon), and the maiden who keeps the Grail itself. In addition to allusions like the sacramental table cloth of snow, we find "walnut limbs the gray of whitetail,/ the silver of tarnished chalice" and voices who tell the hero as he eats, "This is not forbidden fruit. Accept it all." For Parzival, the medieval German version of the Grail knight, the Grail is a plate that miraculously provides whatever food one wishes, and its vision inducts him into a chivalric brotherhood under divine law. For Venn's hero the orchard is the provider and his vision inducts him into an animal brotherhood under nature's law. Parzival must do battle in the name of his vision; Venn's hero learns, almost instinctively, how to sing with "only the poem in his teeth."
—Mindy Aloff, In The American Grain, 1976
Sunday Afternoon: Grande Ronde is a thoroughly engaging poetic narrative. There is an impressive consistency in development of theme throughout, and the imagery at its best dresses the lines and elevates one man's journey and makes it live…
—Basil Clark, Green River Review, 1976
Only George Venn's narrative poem, however, demonstrates some devotion to good printing, with forthright drawings by Ian Gatley, good paper and type. Mr. Venn's poem recounts the visit of an anonymous man to the homestead-orchard of a friend, Virginia, at the opening of hunting season. The gathering of walnuts becomes a ritual reconciliation between the protagonist and those elemental simple aspects of a way of life he had withdrawn from. These very tenuous threads of a barely suggested "plot" are woven through a progression of what George Venn himself would refer to as imagistic "moments" — small epiphanies, or recoveries, which illuminate the movement to a resolution. The poem has the great virtue of what Rimbaud called "transparency": we follow the protagonist through these small events and recollections without having to wrest anything from diction or rhythm, seeing through the imagery to its significance without having to make crossword puzzle intellectual leaps.
—James J. McAuley, Willow Springs Magazine, 1979