Work in Canadian Poetry Studies: 1978
following is a hand-list of criticism on English-Canadian poetry published in 1978.
Journal articles have been summarized or abstracted, according to the requirements imposed
by the nature of the material. Full-length studies and interviews have been included
without comment. It is hoped that the list will provide students and scholars with a
reference point in the rapidly growing body of work in Canadian poetry criticism.
Devereux, E.J., introd.
George Webbers The Last of the Aborigines. Canadian
Poetry, no. 2 (Spring/Summer, 1978), 74-98.
This poem about the killing of
the Beothuks, published in St. Johns in 1851, although not a major work, is yet a
genuine, and for its time unusual, moral response to events which Webber made a serious
attempt to research. [Reproduces text of poem.]
Hughes, K.J. Oliver
Goldsmiths The Rising Village. The Lakehead University
Review, 7:2 and 8:1 & 2 (1978), 35-53.
Textual changes in
Goldsmiths poem reflect the writers shift in political consciousness from
imperialism to nationalism. The poem in its final version must be seen as a coherent
structure, and as displaying a large measure of technical strength.
Keith, W.J. The
Rising Village again. Canadian Poetry, no. 3 (Fall/Winter, 1978),
Kenneth J. Hughes argues (in Canadian
Poetry, no. 1) that Goldsmiths poem can be seen to stand on its own, apart from
its Old World relative, The Deserted Village. But Goldsmith consciously
modelled his poem on that of his great-uncle, and Hughes interpretation of it as a
strongly political undercutting of the older work is difficult to accept.
Morley, William F.E. A
soldiers progress: some military records pertaining to John Richardson, a pioneer
Canadian poet and novelist.
Canadian Poetry, no. 3 (Fall/Winter, 1978),
Richardsons military career from 1812 to 1818, mainly drawn from the War Office
Monthly Return of Services, in the Public Record Office, London.]
Zezulka, J.M. The
pastoral vision in nineteenth century Canada. Dalhousie Review, 57:2 (Summer,
In the work of Canadian narrative
poets from Goldsmith to Crawford, the vision of Canada as a restored pastoral society
functions as part of a national ethos. More recent writers invoke the vision as a
Archibald Lampman on poets and poetry. Essays on Canadian Writing,
no. 9 (Winter, 1977/78), 12-25.
Examination of Lampmans
unpublished essays indicates that his literary criticism is part of a much larger
philosophy, which is basically and radically realistic, progressive, melioristic and
moralistic, and that the fundamental idea of his literary criticism is that good
poetry assists the movement of mankind towards perfection.
Canadian Poetry in its Relation to the Poetry of England and America by
Charles G.D. Roberts. Canadian Poetry, no. 3 (Fall/ Winter, 1978),
[An edition of this previously
unpublished address, with an introduction describing the occasion upon which it was given,
and noting its significance in the development of Roberts thought.]
Campbell, Glen. The
political poetry of Louis Riel: a semiotic study. Canadian Poetry, no.
3 (Fall/Winter, 1978), 14-25.
Examination of six of Riels
mainly unpublished poems reveals patterns which indicate that Riel was a man for whom
reality was distorted by rigid dialectical reasoning.
Johnson, James F. Malcolms
Katie and Hugh and Ion: Crawfords changing narrative
vision. Canadian Poetry, no. 3 (Fall/Winter,
Crawfords optimistic faith
in the power of love to build a nation, which she affirms in Malcolms
Katie, undergoes rigorous questioning in the later, and unfinished, Hugh and Ion.
McDougall, Robert L.
D.C. Scott: the dating of the poems. Canadian Poetry, no.
2 (Spring/Summer, 1978), 13-27.
[A discussion of the reasons for,
and the difficulties of, providing a chronology of Scotts poetic production.
Tables, based on author-annotated copies of The Green Cloister and Collected
Monk, Patricia. James De Mille
as mystic: a reconsideration of Behind the Veil. Canadian Poetry,
no. 3 (Fall/Winter, 1978), 38-55.
Although De Milles mystical
theories seem superficially to resemble those of the German Romantic philosopher Richter,
examination reveals that the two writers differ widely in temperament and
philosophy. Behind the Veil is not wholly successful as a poem, but it is an
interesting, even surprising, work which rewards close study.
Radu, Kenneth. Patterns of
meaning: Isabella Crawfords Malcolms Katie. Dalhousie
Review, 57:2 (Summer, 1977), 322-331.
Crawfords powerful use of
symbolism deepens and complicates the central life-versus-death conflict which this
melodramatic poem presents.
Ross, Catherine Sheldrick.
Isabella Valancy Crawford: solar mythologist. English Studies
in Canada. 4:3 (Fall, 1978),
The solar myth provides Crawford
with a structure for the working out of [her] themes of love and despair and the
purgatorial role of suffering.
____. Isabella Valancy
Crawfords Gisli the Chieftain. Canadian Poetry, no. 2
(Spring/Summer 1978), 28-37.
Crawford draws upon Icelandic,
Slavonic and Greek sources for the solar myth which informs all her work, and finds its
fullest expression in Gisli the Chieftain.
Slonim, Leon. Notes on
Duncan Campbell Scotts Lines in Memory of Edmund Morris. Canadian
Poetry, no. 2 (Spring/Summer, 1978),
[Biographical material concerning
the relationship of Scott and the painter Edmund Morris.]
____. A source for
Duncan Campbell Scotts On the Way to the Mission. Canadian
Poetry, no. 3 (Fall/Winter, 1978), 62-64.
Comparison of Scotts poem
with Ponteach; or the Savages of America, a play by Robert Rogers, suggests
a possible source for Scotts poem, and provides a contrast which illuminates the
Strong, William. Charles
G.D. Roberts The Tantramar Revisited. Canadian Poetry, no.
3 (Fall/Winter, 1978), 26-35.
[A close analysis of The
Tantramar Revisited, expanding upon earlier critical commentary, and intending to
reinforce the accepted judgment of the poem as Roberts masterpiece.]
West, David S. Malcolms
Katie: Alfred as nihilist not rapist. Studies in Canadian Literature,
3:1 (Winter, 1978), 137-141.
Robin Mathews (in SCL, 2:1
(Winter, 1977)), interprets Alfreds rape of the unconscious Katie as
explicitly sexual. In fact, Alfred intends to carry Katie with him to the oblivion
Whitridge, Margaret Coulby.
Sarepta and the fatal fascination of the sonnet: a tribute to Edward
Brownlow. Journal of Canadian Poetry, 1:1 (Winter, 1978), 27-36.
The mystery surrounding the life
of the young Montreal poet who wrote under the pseudonym Sarepta, and who died
at the early age of 37, draws attention to Brownlows considerable talent and
production as a sonneteer.
Collins, Robert G. E.J.
Pratt: the Homeric voice. Review of National Literatures, 7 (1976),
As epic poet of an emerging
national culture, Pratt, in his subjects, style and philosophy, speaks from a mental
climate that is uniquely Canada.
Cook, Hugh. Development
in the early poetry of Raymond Souster. Studies in Canadian Literature, 3:1
(Winter, 1978), 113-118.
Contrary to most critical
opinion, Sousters work has undergone constant evolution throughout his career.
Darling, Michael. An
interview with A.J.M. Smith. Essays on Canadian Writing, no. 9 (Winter,
Davey, Frank. Louis
Dudeks functional poetry. Rune, no. 4 (Spring, 1977),
Throughout his career,
Dudeks sense of a social duty for literature has led him to oppose theories which
separate art from life. His own poetry has developed toward a meditational mode
which opens both extraordinary and mundane experience to poetic examination.
____. Louis Dudeks
red truck. Open Letter, ser. 3, no. 9 (Fall, 1978), 71-86.
Dudeks charting of the
Modernist movement in Canada reveals a rationalist bias, which inform his criticism of
Frye and McLuhan. His championship of the anti-rationalist Souster, however, is
indicative of a paradox in his aesthetic which has played a part in shifting Canadian
poetry toward post-modernism.
Frayne, Helen. On
Quebec: an interview with Louis Dudek. CVII, 3:3 (January, 1978),
Grady, Wayne. Who
is this man Smith? Books in Canada, 7:9 (November, 1978), 8-11.
[A profile of A.J.M. Smith.]
Higginson, M. Constance.
A thematic study of F.R. Scotts evolutionary poetry. Journal of
Canadian Poetry, 1:1 (Winter, 1978), 37-48.
A small number of Scotts
poem can be classified as evolutionary, developing theories which replace
anthropomorphic myths with a concept of the elemental relationships of man with his
McCormick, Marion. Why
Louis Dudek thinks Modernism remains the central question in the arts.
[Interview] Books in Canada, 7:8 (October, 1978), 37-38.
Nichol, bp. Some notes
on Earle Birneys Solemn Doodles. Essays on Canadian
Writing, no. 9 (Winter, 1977/78), 109-111.
Anyone approaching Birneys
pattern poems should be aware of the importance of the individual letters used in writing
Noonan, Gerald A.
Incongruity and nostalgia in Sarah Binks. Studies in Canadian Literature,
3:2 (Summer, 1978), 264 273.
The humour of Sarah Binks
poems arises from their application of lyricism to trivia.
Rooke, Constance. P.K.
Page: the chameleon and the centre. Malahat Review, no. 45 (January,
Pages visionary poetry
develops through empathy and Sufi philosophy to find in centre in Love.
Seidner, Eva. Modernism
in the booklength poems of Louis Dudek. Open Letter, ser. 3, no. 7 (Summer, 1977),
As a Modernist, Dudek rejects
decorative structures and sentimental content. In his long poems he
strives for sincerity, for a language which authentically represents his subjects.
Tovell, Vincent. The
world for a country: an edited interview with Frank Scott. Canadian
Poetry, no. 2 (Spring/Summer, 1978), 51-73.
Waddington, Miriam. Form
and ideology in poetry. Laurentian University Review, 10:2 (February,
[A personal and autobiographical
discussion of the poetic process.]
Weir, Lorraine. Portrait
of the poet as Joyce scholar. An approach to A.M. Klein. Canadian
Literature, 76 (Spring, 1978), 47-55.
Attention to Kleins
critical work on Joyce leads to understanding of the Joyce-derived concept of language as
incarnation, as it functions in Kleins poetry.
Each in his prison thinking of the key: images of confinement and
liberation in Margaret Avison. Studies in Canadian Literature, 3:2
(Summer, 1978), 232-243.
The dialectical struggle between
confinement and liberation which operates in Avisons work finds its solution in the
religious affirmation of The Dumbfounding.
Post-Mortemism. Moosehead Review, 1:2 (1978), 56-62.
The post-modernist inheritors of
the poetics of Eliot and Pound, both avant-garde and academic, retreat into cynicism and
obscurantism. Many Canadian especially West Coast poets mistakenly
accept fragmentation and alienation as given, and fail to engage in a dialectic which
seeks to change the world.
Baker, Howard. Jewish
themes in the works of Irving Layton. Essays on Canadian Writing, no. 10
(Spring, 1978), 43-54.
Layton, although no theist,
revels in his Judaism, tracing his joyful sensuality to his Hebrew
roots. His mature poetry is preoccupied with Jewish history, and with concern for
the survival of the race, both in Israel and in the Diaspora.
Barbour, Douglas. The
phenomenological I: Daphne Marlatts Steveston, in Futures in a
Ground: Canadian essays on modern literature collected in honour of Sheila Watson.
Ed. by Diane Bessai and David Jackel. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books,
1978, pp. 174-188.
Influenced by the phenomenology
of Olsen, Daphne Marlatt achieves in Steveston an expression of the encounter of
the human consciousness with place.
____. Some thoughts on
Science Fiction and poetry. Arc, no. 1 (Spring, 1978), 29-31.
Samuel Delany argues that the
impulses behind the making of poetry and of sf are similar. Some contemporary
Canadian poets, in particular bp Nichol, employ sf concepts and images in their work.
Beardsley, Doug and Rosemary
Sullivan. An interview with Dorothy Livesay. Canadian Poetry,
no. 3 (Fall/Winter, 1978), 87-97.
Bessai, Diane. Death is
a happy ending: a dialogue in thirteen parts, in Figures in a Ground:
Canadian essays on modern literature collected in honor of Sheila Watson. Ed.
by Diane Bessai and David Jackel. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1978, pp.
[Interview with Robert Kroetsch.]
Wrestling with Nowlans angel. Canadian Poetry, no. 2
(Spring/Summer, 1978), 43-50.
Nowlan draws on, and up-ends,
Biblical sources in The Anatomy of Angels, which bears comparison with the
poems of Donne in which the relationship of body and spirit, and of poetry and prophecy,
Bilan, R.P. Margaret
Atwoods The Journals of Susanna Moodie. Canadian Poetry,
no. 2 (Spring/Summer, 1978), 1-12.
Atwoods book is tightly
organized, deriving its strength from its cumulative effect, as it traces, through
developing images of trees, fire, light and darkness, the process by which the persona
Moodie becomes the spirit of the land she once hated.
Reading before Tish. Open Letter, ser. 3, no. 9 (Fall, 1978),
[A list of 25 books which
Bowering had read just prior to the first publication of Tish]
Bowering, Marilyn. Pine
boughs and apple trees: the poetry of Patrick Lane. Malahat Review, no.
45 (January, 1978), 24-34.
Out of the West Coast experience
of exile, Patrick Lane has developed a poetry of sincere language, which discourages
self-deceit, and voices truths about the meaning of place in terms of the people
Cooley, Dennis. Double
or nothing: Eli Mandels Out of Place and Another Time. Essays
on Canadian Writing, no. 10 (Spring, 1978), 73-81.
Mandel searches for, but fails to
find, the vernacular voice in which to write of the place of his childhood.
Dragland, Stan. James
Reaneys pulsating dances in and out of forms, in The Human
Elements: critical essays. Ed. by David Helwig. Ottawa: Oberon
Press, 1978, pp. 112-133.
[A study of Reaneys work
which focusses on The Donnelly Trilogy, but which contains passing commentary on
Interview with Victor Coleman. Open Letter, ser. 3, no. 8 (Spring,
Colemans poetry. Open Letter, ser. 3, no.8 (Spring, 1978), 15-25.
Coleman is a phenomenological
thinker whose poetry attempts to illuminate and convey the experience of the chaotic
Francis, Wynne. The
farting Jesus: Layton and the Heroic Vitalists. CVII, 3: 3 (January,
Vitalist, rages against Christianity, and reclaims Jesus as Jewish hero.
____. The Little
Magazine/Small Press Movement and Canadian poetry since 1950. Laurentian
University Review, 10:2 (February, 1978), 89-109.
[A survey of the current scene.]
Hunter, Lynette. Form
and energy in the poetry of Michael Ondaatje. Journal of Canadian Poetry, 1:1
(Winter, 1978), 49-70.
Ondaatjes Billy is symbolic
of the artist, finding metaphors for energy, release, equilibrium and control, creating
reality and dying with it, yet living on through the mythic nature of his experience.
Jones, D.G. In search of
Canada: Dennis Lees ironic vision. Arc, no. 1 (Spring, 1978),
Lees poetic seems to reject
current Humanist and Modernist trends toward continentalism. Though he shares some
Modernist doctrines, he is set apart by the particular, and Canadian, quality of his
Lane, M. Travis.
Travelling with Saint Theresa: the poetry of Paulette Jiles. Essays
on Canadian Writing, no. 10 (Spring, 1978), 61-72.
In her travel poems, Jiles
self pursues self toward growing strength and humanity. Her work exhibits a mature
expressionist technique and a feminist perspective.
Lecker, Robert. Better
quick than dead: Anne Wilkinsons poetry. Studies in Canadian
Literature, 3:1 (Winter, 1978), 35-46.
Wilkinsons passion for life
and creation leads her to seek a kind of transcendence of death in consciousness of her
identity existing in various forms throughout time.
Marlatts poetry. Canadian Literature, no. 76 (Spring, 1978), 56-67.
through her books of poetry published to date has been toward a language which gives full
expression to perception of the caught moment in the dynamic flux of experience.
Kroetschs poetry. Open Letter, ser. 3, no. 8 (Spring, 1978),
Kroetsch finds a voice through
memory by the process of unnaming realities in order to rename them. Only then can
the dialectic of his meditational poetry come into play.
Lye, John. The road to
Ameliasburg. Dalhousie Review, 57-2 (Summer, 1977), 242-253.
Despite its rhetorical vigor and
boisterous social criticism, Al Purdys poetry is sensitive and humane. Its
focus is upon the individual, whose sources of strength are seen to lie in sympathy and in
Ideology and poetry: an examination of some recent trends in Canadian
criticism. Studies in Canadian Literature, 3:1 (Winter, 1978), 93-1009.
John Bentley Mays attacks
on the work of Phyllis Webb and Daphne Marlatt, Frank Daveys criticism of P.K. Page
and the early Avison, and George Amabiles commentary on Atwoods poetry, are
based upon doctrinaire, ideological criteria. Because of its prescriptive nature,
their criticism distorts and misinterprets its subject.
[The discussion is pursued by
Mays, Mallinson and Davey in SCL, 3:2 (Summer, 1978), 282-287.]
Mandel, Eli. Ecological
heroes and visionary politics: contemporary primitivism in Canadian
writing. The Lakehead University Review, 7:2 and 8: 1 & 2 (1978),
3-15. [Previously published in Rune, no. 2 (Spring, 1976)]
primitive poets such as bissett and Nichol attempt to transcend all
imprisoning structures, even those of language itself.
Mayne, Seymour, ed. Irving
Layton: the poet and his critics. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1978.
McCaffery, Steve. Bill
Bissett: a writing outside writing. Open Letter, ser. 3, no. 9 (Fall,
flows release energies trapped inside repressive language structures such as
McFadden, David. The
twilight of self-consciousness, in The Human Elements: critical essays.
Ed. by David Helwig. Ottawa: Oberon Press, 1978, pp. 78-96.
London-born poets Christopher
Dewdney and Robert Fones are working at the beginning of a great change in world
consciousness. It will be many years before their poetry is widely accepted or
McMillan, Sharon. Susan
Musgrave: hinging the blind memory. Malahat Review, no. 45 (January,
Musgraves shamanic poetry
represents West Coast landscape through appeal to emotions, conjuring the connection
between the aboriginal and the collective unconscious of her audience.
Montreal English Poetry of the
Seventies. Ed. by André Farkas and Ken Norris. Montreal: Véhicule P.,
Moritz, A.F. The Man
from Vaudeville, Sask. Books in Canada, 7:1 (January, 1978), 9-12.
[A profile of the poet John
Nichol, bp. A
conversation with Fred Wah. T.R.G. Report One: Translation (Part 3). Open
Letter, ser. 3, no. 9 (Fall, 1978), 34-52.
Nodelman, Perry. The
Silver Honkabeest: children and the meaning of childhood. Canadian
Childrens Literature, no. 12 (1978), 26-34.
Dennis Lees poems for
children chart the stages of childhood, from pure childish behavior, through recognition
and defiance of grownup reactions to such behavior, to the conscious loss of childhood
Norris, Ken. Montreal
English poetry in the Seventies. CVII, 3:3 (January, 1978), 8-11.
[A survey of the current scene
which emphasizes the dynamic quality of the Montreal writing community.]
Oates, Joyce Carol. A
conversation with Margaret Atwood. The Ontario Review, no. 9 (Fall-Winter,
Scobie, Stephen. His
legend as jungle sleep: Michael Ondaatje and Henri Rousseau. Canadian
Literature, no. 76 (Spring, 1978), 6-21.
Ondaatjes references to
Rousseau lead to recognition of his kinship with the painter in his love of the bizarre,
in his perception of the interpenetration of domestic scene and jungle, and in
his attempts to freeze the transient moment.
____. Leonard Cohen.
Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre. 1978.
Sherman, Kenneth. An
interview with Irving Layton. Essays on Canadian Writing, no. 10
(Spring, 1978), 7-18.
Silver, Jack. Moving
into winter: a study of Daphne Marlatts Our Lives. Open
Letter, ser. 3:8 (Spring, 1978), 89-103.
Kwakiutl legends of the house of
the Cannibal Spirit and the coming of winter underlie the images of dwelling which Marlatt
develops in Our Lives.
Solecki, Sam. An
interview with Tom Wayman. Rune, no. 3 (Spring, 1976), 62-72.
Solway, David. The
flight from Canada. CVII, 3:3 (January, 1978), 4-5.
Cultural identity is not to be
found in inspired jingoism, but in a healthy eclecticism, which will lead to
synthesis, and thus to genuine identity.
Experimental poetry since 1950. Laurentian University Review,
10:2 (February, 1978), 47-61.
The experimental poets of the
Sixties have produced some good, but much facile work; however their effect upon poets who
open themselves to a variety of influences seems to have been beneficial.
See also: Gibbs, Robert.
Proprioception: reply to Peter Stevens. Laurentian University Review,
10:2 (February, 1978), 63-65; and: Broad, Margaret. A report on the
discussion of the paper by Peter Stevens and the response by Robert Gibbs. Laurentian
University Review, 10:2 (February, 1978), 87-88.]
Twigg, Alan. Talking
straight with Trower. Quill and Quire, 44:11 (August, 1978), 25.
[Interview with B.C. poet Peter
Van Wilt, Kurt. Layton,
Nietzsche and Overcoming. Essays on Canadian Writing, no. 10 (Spring,
Laytons whole work displays
a strong Nietzschean influence, evident in his presentation of the poet as prophet and
Overman, uniting the Apollonian and the Dionysian, and constantly in a state of becoming.
Whiteman, Neil. A left
to the mind: the poems of Patrick Lane. CVII, 3:4 (Summer, 1978),
Lanes work is flawed by
both lack of vision and lack of craft.
Wood, Susan. Reinventing
the word: Kroetschs poetry. Canadian Literature, no. 77
(Summer, 1978), 28-39.
Kroetsch, in his poetry as much
as in his novels, seeks out his own past, and a language of metaphor and association in
which to account for his personal history, and tell the stories of the future.
Capone, Giovanna. Canada:
il villagio della terra: Letteratura canadese di lingua inglese. Bologna:
Dudek, Louis. Selected
essays and criticism. Ottawa: Tecumseh, 1978.
In our own house: social
perspectives on Canadian literature. Ed. by Paul Cappon. Toronto: McClelland
and Stewart, 1978.
Mathews, Robin. Canadian
Literature: surrender or revolution? Toronto: Steel Rail, 1978.
McClung, M.G. Women in
Canadian Life: Literature. Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1978.
[Contains comment on Livesay and
The New Land: studies in
literary theme. Ed. by Richard Chadbourne and Hallvard Dahlie. Waterloo:
Wilfrid Laurier U.P. (for the Calgary Institute for the Humanities), 1978.
A Political Art: essays and
images in honour of George Woodcock. Ed. by William H. New. Vancouver: UBC
Schoeck, Richard J.
Reflections on Canadian poetry. Review of National Literatures, 7
Canadian poetry is characterized
by its long dependence on, and its revolt against, nineteenth-century French and English
romanticism; by its experience of an isolating and hostile environment, which poets have
confronted either directly, or through myth; by the failure of the nation to achieve a
fully bilingual culture. These conditions may be seen as an initiatory stage in
development toward a fully mature national literature.
Compiled by Linda Dowler