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Topic: Margaret Avison

Coy and austere: Margaret Avison's Books of Revelation

You can measure the success of Margaret Avison’s career by the major awards accorded to nearly half of her books: two Governor General’s Awards and a Griffin Poetry Prize. If you put little stock in awards (fair enough), then the better measure may be the list of anthologies (an appendix to this volume of Always Now) in which her work has appeared, particularly before the release of Winter Sun in 1960. She was first anthologized by A.J.M. Smith in The Book of Canadian Poetry: A Critical and Historical Anthology (1943). Her poems appeared in anthologies published by both First Statement and Contact, edited by John Sutherland, Louis Dudek, and Irving Layton. Earle Birney, Bliss Carman, Ralph Gustafson, and Eli Mandel all selected her work for Canadian poetry anthologies, and Denise Levertov pursued Avison’s second book, The Dumbfounding (1966), for Norton (a point Avison records when giving “Thanks” here). In other words, before Avison had published her first monograph, she was recognized as a representative Canadian poet by some of the enduring names in Canadian poetry, and after Winter Sun that reputation spread.