94 Bruntsfield Place,   
Edinburgh, Scotland,   
February 8th, 1928.     

Dear Mr. Knister,

     I trust you will see by the above address why I have not been able to answer your letter sooner. Congratulations are due to you on having finished your novel and on undertaking so hazardous a task as editing a collection of canadian short stories. It is an interesting one, though, and I certainly envy you. My great ambition is to edit an anthology of Canadian poetry-in the more modern manner, and by younger men. Do you not think that the time will soon be ripe, if not for a periodical, at least for an annual book of verse? On this side of the Atlantic, where I expect to be for two years, I can do little. But would you-and do you think you could get Macmillans interested-consider collaborating with me in such an attempt. We could, no doubt, get some good things from the some of the books of published verse; the files of The Canadian Forum would yield more; I know some quite promising younger men in Montreal, and no doubt you can rake up others in Toronto. You will, of course, be too busy to do anything until you are finished with the short stories, but I should like very much to hear what you think of the plan.

     And now to answer your questions about stories in the Fortnightly. I am sending you one or two copies that contain fairly good stories. But the people who wrote them have, I know, unpublished stories that are much better than any that appeared in the Fortnightly. Three men particularly have been doing some interesting work, though I don't think they have published anywhere else yet. They are Leo Kennedy, 1 Graeme Taylor and Leo Edel. You can get in touch with them all through the last named, who was one of the editors of the Fortnightly. Address him at The Arts Building, McGill University. He has done one particularly good tale in which I think you might be interested. It is the stream of consciousness of a young university student whose failure to understand living ends in suicide.2 I don't know whether the fact that it completely dispenses with punctuation and capitals would render it useless for your purpose. There is certainly, however, no lack of clarity and vigour in the story. Also a certain beauty. Kennedy's story in the fortnightly of the thug and the cop and the stockbroker who are killed in the same fracas and whose souls go arm in arm to meet whatever is to happen next, is, I think, a good one, but it would be improved by revision.3 The story by "Hans Mann" is Graeme Taylor's,4 but he has since done some longer and better tales.

     I did send a ms. book of poems to the Graphic but it was, as I expected, returned, and I am very glad, because it contained quite a number of poems which upon consideration I see should not be reprinted. Thanks very much for your offer to show such a book to Macmillans, I may take you at your word one of these days. But not just yet. I don't want to rush into print with poems which I shall afterwards come to dislike.5 I have ventured into prose in an article calling for a serious canadian criticism which I have sent to the [The Canadian] Forum, but of course cannot say if they'll take it. Incidentally there is in it an attack upon the CAA [Canadian Authors' Association] and a criticism of canadian [sic] poetry as lacking in intellectualism. (is that the word?) I have two more poems coming someday in The Dial and am writing a good deal, but rejecting next morning nearly as much, and, like you have the responsibility of a wife.

     Hoping to hear from you again,

Sincerely yours,               

A.J.M. SMITH                

VI TLS McMaster Collection

  1. Stories by Leo Kennedy: "An Old Man," MeGill Fortnightly Reuiew, 27 April 1927, pp. 74-5; "Morrison, Sweeney, and Mr. Standersdt." McGill Fortnightly Review, 25 March, 1927, pp. 58-9; "Lucifus Enamoured." McGill Fortnightly Review, 10 March, 1927, pp. 55-6; "Jargon and the Sad Thingums." McGill Fortnightly Review 2 Feb. 1927, pp. 38-9; "The Wind that Lived in a Lane." McGill Fortnightly Review, 2 Feb. 1927, p. 36; "Black Bottom." 3 Nov. 1926, pp. 4-5.

         Stories by F.R. &ott: "Gertrude Stein Has Tea at The Union." McGill Fortnightly Review, 25 March 1927, pp. 62-3, "The Defective Executive or Soaked in System." McGill Fortnightly Review, 6 Feb. 1926, pp. 48, 51; "December." McGill Fortnightly Review, 19 Dec. 1925, pp. 18, 24; "A Miniature Republic." McGill Fortnightly Review, pp. 14, 15, 16.[back]

  2. " of consciousness...." Possibly "Search," by "J.S." McGill Fortnightly Review, 22 March 1926, p. 73.[back]

  3. "Kennedy's story...." This is "Morrison, Sweeney, and Mr. Standersdt." McGill Fortnightly Review, 25 March 1927, pp. 58-9. Morrison is the stock broker; Little Sweeney is the thug; and the police officer is Standersdt.[back]

  4. "Hans Mann" or Graeme Taylor published "the flow will return," McGill Fortnightly Review, 27 April 1927, pp. 68-9.[back]

  5. "rush into print. . ." Smith's words seem somewhat ironic when one considers his first book of poems, News of the Phoenix, was not printed until 1943. Yet he published many poems in periodicals during the mid-and-late twenties.

    "Journey." The Dial, 84, No. 5 (May 1928), [412]. from McGill Daily, 17 March 1926, p. 2 (signed "Michael Gard.")

    "Prothalamium." The Dial, 85, No. 1 (July 1928), [51].

    "Cavalcade." The Canadian Forum, 8, No. 95 (Aug. 1928), 745.

    "The Creek." The Dial, 85. No. 5 (Nov. 1928), [414].

    "The Shrouding." The Dial, 85, No. 5 (Nov. 1928), [414]-415. from "Haste Thee." McGill Daily, 10 March 1926), p. 2. (signed Vincent Starr) and McGill Fortnightly Review, 27 April 1927, p. 79.

    "Proud Parable." ["a bitter King in Anger to be gone. . ."] Canadian Mercury, Dec. 1928, p. 15.

    "Good Friday." Canadian Mercury, March 1929, p. 27.

    "The Circle." Canadian Mercury, April-May 1929, p. 102.

    "In the Wilderness." The Canadian Forum, April 1930, p. 239.

    "Sea Cliff." The Canadian Forum, June 1930, p. 332.

    "Swift Current." The Canadian Forum, June 1930, p. 332.

    "A Hyacinth for Edith." The Canadian Forum, July 1930, p. 369. from "Homage to E.S." McGill Fortnightly Review, 2 Feb. 1927, p. 34.[back]