02 July 2012

When Poets Ruled; or, Never Mind the Novelists



For my poet friends, these observations from Canada 1962:
A striking feature of Canadian letters in recent years has been the consistently high level of Canadian poetry. Although the poet's audience was often not large, he was at least assured of publication in one of the many literary magazines of the country where his work would receive discriminating critical attention. Too often, however, such limited circulation was the most that could be expected. More recently a growing interest among a wider reading public has made possible the publication of a number of volumes of poetry, some of which have achieved minor commercial successes.
A comprehensive picture of Canadian poetry was made available to readers during 1961 by the appearance of the Oxford Book of Canadian Verse. Several other important collections also appeared during the year, including Leonard Cohen's The Spice Box of Earth, River Among Rocks by Ralph Gustafson, The Devil's Picture Book by Daryl Hine and Irving Layton's collection of stories and poems, The Swinging Flesh. The Governor General's Award for poetry in English for 1960 went to Margaret Avison for Winter Sun and Other Poems, her first published collection. Poetry in French Canada is no less important and vital as was amply illustrated in the Oxford Book. Among the most widely known of the younger poets are Alan Grandbois, Rina Lasnier and Anne Hébert. The latter received the Governor General's Award for French Poetry for her book Poèmes
Canadian fiction is perhaps somewhat less vigorous.

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