THE NEW OXFORD BOOK OF CANADIAN VERSE IN ENGLISH
Edited by Margaret Atwood.
Volume 11 Number 2.
This excellent collection, chosen and introduced by Margaret Atwood, represents the work of 120 poets, sixty-five of whom were not included in A. J .M. Smith's Oxford Book of Canadian Verse (1960).
The focus is English-language Canadian poetry between 1628 and 1981, with an emphasis on poets writing after 1950. Women poets are well represented.
In her fascinating introduction, Atwood explains why she has included material that might be considered controversial, and she acknowledges the strong narrative strain evident in Canadian poetry. She analyses the various periods in Canadian poetry, making special reference to E.J. Pratt, William Henry Drum-mond, Isabella Valancy Crawford, and the Confederation poets. She comments on the cultural "renaissance" of the 1960s and 1970s and the move away from "the sophisticated cosmopolitanism favoured by Smith" toward a new style symbolized by Al Purdy.
In her conclusion, Atwood reminds us that Canadian poetry is "not American or English poetry manque but a unique organism: spiky, tough, flexible, various and vital." Her choice of material certainly reflects it.
Marion Mintis, Bonar Law Memorial School, Rexton, NB.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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