menu Arc Poetry Magazine

Topic: Canadian poets

Poet vs Poet online: Geddes on Lowther

The manner of her living: Pat Lowther ~ remembered by Gary Geddes I was not a close friend of Pat Lowther. I’d met her at League of Canadian Poets meetings and when, while on a mission to make final arrangements for the League’s AGM in 1975, she stayed over at my house in Victoria, sleeping […]

The best of our primitive hearts

Congratulations to Paul Tyler, author of A Short History of Forgetting (Gaspereau Press), winner of the 2011 Archibald Lampman Award A Short History of Our Future With Aliens ~Paul Tyler On the day the aliens come, I’ll still go into work; it’ll be all the talk at the office. It’s getting closer. What skills they’ll […]

Congratulations to the 2011 finalists for the Archibald Lampman Award

Arc Poetry Magazine is proud to present—drumroll—the 2011 Lampman shortlist! The Archibald Lampman Award is presented annually to an outstanding collection of English-language poetry by an author living in the National Capital Region.   Nina Berkhout, Arrivals and Departures, BuschekBooks Terry Ann Carter, A Crazy Man Thinks He’s Ernest in Paris, Black Moss Press Paul […]

Another inscrutable house: Traces of Elizabeth Bishop, 1911 – 1979

Sandra Barry tours us through the Elizabeth Bishop House, Great Village, Nova Scotia “For some reason or other I always felt that the parlor belonged to me. Although close upon the village street, so that your face, as you looked through the square window panes, was on a level with and only a few feet […]

Our lost poets: Bring them back

an introduction by the editors…
All the poets you will read about in this copy of [_Arc_] are dead. With each, a potential legacy has also died, or is in full-blown demise. Though ordinary mortality is beyond our powers to correct, we take issue, as our theme “Forgotten and Neglected” implies, with these secondary, literary deaths. We contend that each of the 13 poets whose work appears in these pages has received less credit than was his or her due for either literary accomplishments, the enrichment of our poetic history, or both. The contributions made by these poets have faded too quickly from our collective memory and seem doomed to archival obscurity, if that.
This issue, known among our crew as F&N, was born out of a knot of frustration, a knot that thickened even as our excitement also grew over the lost and near-lost poets re-emerging–in what for most of them would have seemed a bizarre and foreign incarnation–through our inboxes and on our computer screens.
In the spring of 2005, three members of _Arc_–the two of us from Ottawa and Sackville, New Brunswick respectively, and our webmistress Stacey Munro from Vancouver Island–converged at the Associated Writers and Publishers conference and book fair in downtown Vancouver. Amid an intoxicating few days of seeing such poets as W.S. Merwin and Anne Carson give readings to jam-packed ballrooms at the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel, we also attended a session called Forgotten and Neglected Poets, and were curious to see which Canadians would appear on the roster (the panel giving the presentation was American). To our amusement and dismay, Gwendolyn MacEwen was the sole Canadian deemed in need of resurrection. As MacEwen’s been neither F’d nor N’d in _this_ country, we began to wonder who might truly fit the category. By the time we’d returned to our table at the book fair, this special issue of _Arc_ was already unofficially underway….

Lost and Found Poet #1: Louise Morey Bowman

Louise Morey Bowman, Early Canadian Modernist
Rediscovered by Aislinn Hunter, poet and essayist.
Let’s say Virginia Woolf was right when she wrote that part of the poet’s task is “to find the relations between things that seem incompatible yet have a mysterious affinity, to absorb every experience that comes your way fearlessly.” Reading the Canadian poet, Louise Morey Bowman, it is the word “fearlessly” that stands out. This early modernist wrote with a sense of abandon, an exuberance, a friendly relationship with the exclamation mark. She published three books of poetry that displayed a bold experimentation: this earned her criticism from the literary circles of the time but also paved the way for such writers as Gwendolyn MacEwen and Elizabeth Smart. Yet, Bowman has all but vanished from our literary sight. How is it, this essay asks, that we can come so close to losing writers like Bowman so soon after they’ve set down a portrait of their time and place on the page?

Lost and Found Poet #2: Avi Boxer

Avi Boxer: 1950s Montreal East-end Poet and Protégé of Irving Layton
Rediscovered by Avi Boxer’s son, Asa Boxer.
Avi Boxer was a Montreal East-end poet who flourished during the 1950’s literary foment alongside A.M. Klein, F.R. Scott, Louis Dudeck, Irving Layton and Leonard Cohen. In his review-essay of _No Address_ (Avi Boxer’s only collection of poems), Asa Boxer discusses the successes and failures of his father’s work in the context of The Montreal School of the past and of today. “The Branch from which I Fell” is an essay that works to define a branch of the Montreal School and its ambitions, struggling to establish the author’s own place within the nascent tradition. Boxer’s evaluation of his own father’s work is at once respectfully honest and movingly heartfelt.

Lost and Found Poet #3: Audrey Alexandra Brown

Audrey Alexandra Brown: Bestseller, West-coast Romantic
Rediscovered by Kim Blank, fellow Westerner.
Literary history suddenly dropped Audrey Alexandra Brown (1904-1998) like a hot potato. Despite the accolades, the awards, and the best wishes of those who early on championed her work–and those who may have played upon the fact that she was crippled by rheumatic fever–she was bull-dozed by modernism and professional literary critics. She was aware of what was happening, but helpless to stop it. Her failing, she claimed, was that she had no real experience of life.

Lost and Found Poet #4: Cheng Sait Chia

Cheng Sait Chia: Chinese-Canadian Maritimer Imagist
Rediscovered by George Elliott Clarke.
Cheng Sait Chia, the Singapore-born, Chinese immigrant whose spare, beautiful poetry should have placed her among the great Canadian imagists, alongside her fellow Maritimer John Thompson, published only one book posthumously, and has never been anthologized, not even in collections of work by Chinese-Canadians, East Coast poets, or Canadian women poets. Cheng died of cancer in 1981, at the age of 41, and her work, though infused by her illness with the theme of death, exhibits an exhilarating refusal of luxury, heroic stoicism, and a stern and bracing morbidity.

Lost and Found Poet #5: Philip Child

Philip Child: WWI Poet and University of Toronto Scholar
Rediscovered by Chris Jennings, who, like Child, once worked for the University of Toronto Quarterly.
Arguably the best-known of Canadian poems written about the experience of World War I, “In Flanders Fields” by John McRae is a poem that isn’t much praised for its techniques or the subtlety of its themes. Philip Child shares McRae’s claim to immediate experience of the war; more, he saw what McRae didn’t: the way war fostered a culture of modernity and a modern literature. Both technically and thematically, Child’s poetry tries to harmonize a life segmented by experiences before, during, and after the war. An award-winning novelist before he turned from fiction to poetry, Child wrote two books of poems that fascinate as a highly intelligent, highly literate veteran’s attempt to make sense of an experience that few living voices still share.