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Pauline Greenhill

Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1989.248pp, cloth, $29.95
ISBN 0-7735-0697-7. CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up
Reviewed by John Bainbridge.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

The folk tradition of the anglophone community in Ontario has been a neglected part of Canada's heritage. Pauline Greenhill's splendid study of Ontario folk poetry and songs does much to redress that omission.

Folk traditions are not the preserve of certain types of cultures but are inherent in folklore and "its dialectical relation­ship to culture and society." The dearth of scholarly work on the folk poetry of Ontario was one factor that prompted Greenhill to conduct a broad-based study rather than an intensive examination of a single or small group of com­munities. Drawing upon a wide range of sources, some readily accessible, particularly local weekly newspapers, she has uncovered a rich, and often amusing, vein of folk poetry and songs.

True Poetry is not a study of folk poetry as literature. Rather, this genre is important for what it reveals about the aims of the poets and the uses they make of their work in their communi­ties. Accordingly, it should not be judged separately from the context of its local origins.

I was disappointed that the author did not deal with the contributions of the CBC to preserving folk tradition. In particular, CBC Radio's weekend morning programs have long provided a medium for folk poetry, especially that of Ontario. Nevertheless, True Poetry is that rare work which combines erudi­tion with a simple and lucid prose style.

True Poetry is an excellent work, which will be of interest not only to folklorists and local anthropologists but also to the general public. Includes an index and useful bibliography.

John Bainbridge, Beatty-Fleming Senior Public School, Brampton, Ont.
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