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Modern Canadian Poets: An Anthology

Poems in English

Edited by Todd Swift and Evan Jones

Modern Canadian Poetry
Categories: 21st Century, Anthologies, Canadian
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (220 pages)
(Pub. Nov 2010)
Out of Stock
Digital access available through Exact Editions
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Editors
  • Contents
  • Reviews
  • Including poetry by:

    A.M. Klein
    Anne Wilkinson
    Irving Layton
    George Johnston
    Margaret Avison
    David Wevill
    Eric Ormsby
    Norm Sibum
    Marius Kociejowski
    Anne Carson
    Dionne Brand
    George Elliott Clarke
    Steven Heighton
    Cosmopolitan, hybrid and eloquent, modern Canadian poetry is still, for many readers outside Canada, one of the great undiscovered terrains of world literature. Modern Canadian Poets sets out to end that neglect, redefining the connections between Canada and the international poetry world. From poets born in the early years of the twentieth century to those writing in the twenty-first, Modern Canadian Poets explores a lineage of modernist, multilingual, culturally pluralist writers who have engaged with other English- and French-speaking traditions in new ways, to make a literature that is unmistakably Canadian and international.

    The thirty-five poets included represent a wide spectrum of Canadian poetry of the last hundred years in its variety of styles and traditions. Among them are French Canadian poets in translations by anglophone writers, and poets from the First Nations, Caribbean-Canadian and Africadian communities.

    From their vantage point as Canadian poets living outside Canada, Evan Jones and Todd Swift draw a new map of this unique literary landscape.


    W.W.E. ROSS (1894–1966)
    The Diver    
    The Old Song    
    By the River    
    The Vessel    
    The City    

    ALFRED BAILEY (1905–1997)
    The Unreturning     
    The Isosceles Lighthouse    
    The Question, Is It?     
    Border River     
    Miramichi Lightning    
    The Bumpkin and the Bobcat    

    A.M. KLEIN (1909–1972)
    The Rocking Chair    
    Portrait of the Poet as Landscape    
    Lone Bather

    JOHN GLASSCO (1909–1981)
    Quebec Farmhouse    
    Brummell at Calais    
    The Game    
    [A propos de cet enfant]    
    ANNE WILKINSON (1910–1961)
    Little Men Slip into Death    
    Nature Be Damned    
    A Cautionary Tale    
    TV Hockey    

    IRVING LAYTON (1912–2006)
    Berry Picking    
    Keine Lazarovitch 1870-1959    
    Marché Municipale    

    GEORGE JOHNSTON (1913–2004)
    Firefly Evening    
    The Pool    
    War on the Periphery    
    The Bargain Sale    
    Spring Moon    

    DOUGLAS LEPAN (1914–1998)
    The Wounded Prince    
    Coureurs de Bois    

    ANNE HÉBERT (1916–2000)
    The Closed Room    
    Mystery of the Verb    
    Too Tightly Fitted    
    Captive Gods    

    P.K. PAGE (1916–2010)
    Cry Ararat!     
    Planet Earth    
    After Rain    
    Man with One Small Hand

    JOAN MURRAY (1917–1942)
    You Talk of Art    
    Even the Gulls of the Cool Atlantic    
    An Epithalamium    
    Men and Women Have Meaning Only as Man and Woman    

    MARGARET AVISON (1918–2007)
    The Christian’s Year in Miniature    

    DON COLES (b. 1927)
    Photograph in a Stockholm Newspaper for March 13, 1910    
    How We All Swiftly    
    My Son at the Seashore, Age Two    
    Someone Has Stayed in Stockholm    
    On a Caspar David Friedrich Painting Entitled ‘Two Men
        Observing the Moon’    

    RICHARD OUTRAM (1930–2005)
    At the Bijou    
    Creature Becoming Uneasy in Native Element    
    Barbed Wire    
    De Rerum Natura    
    JAY MACPHERSON (b. 1931)
    Ordinary People in the Last Days    
    The Marriage of Earth and Heaven    
    Abominable Snowman    
    The Fisherman    
    The Beauty of Job’s Daughters    

    DAVID WEVILL (b. 1935)
    The Birth of a Shark    
    I Think I Am Becoming Myself    
    A Legend    

    DARYL HINE (b. 1936)
    A Bewilderment at the Entrance of the Fat Boy into Eden
    Patroclus Putting on the Armour of Achilles    
    Total Immersion    
    Summer Afternoon    
    An Adolescent    

    JOHN THOMPSON (1938–1976)
    from Stilt Jack    

    ERIC ORMSBY (b. 1941)
    The Caliph    
    Adages of a Grandmother    
    from Hommage à Robert Melançon    

    ROBERT ALLEN (1946–2006)
    The Newt’s Song
    Alexandria’s Waltz    
    from The Encantadas    

    Essay on Adam     
    Bone Flute Breathing     
    The Beauty of the Weapons     

    ANNE COMPTON (b. 1947)
    What Light Decays    
    Six Sisters    
    How We Care for Trees in Winter    
    We Go Forward    
    What Matters    

    A.F. MORITZ (b. 1947)
    Artisan and Clerk     
    The Helmet    
    Kissinger at the Funeral of Nixon    
    Old Pet    

    NORM SIBUM (b. 1947)

    Dinu Lipatti plays Chopin’s Sonata in B Minor    

    ROBYN SARAH (b. 1949)
    The Unharmed    
    Courtney, Mentioned in Passing, Years After    
    Night Visit    
    Day Visit    

    ANNE CARSON (b. 1950)
    Essay on What I Think About Most    
    Father’s Old Blue Cardigan    
    Funeral Marches    
    Night Confession    

    MARY DALTON (b. 1950)
    Jesus and his Gashes    
    Il Dolce Stil Novo    

    DANIEL DAVID MOSES (b. 1952)
    Grandmother of the Glacier     
    Crow Out Early    
    Story from the Mouths on a Beach    
    An Offering of Frost    
    Complaint of the Strawberry Fieldhand    

    DIONNE BRAND (b. 1953)
    from Thirsty    
    from Inventory    

    ELISE PARTRIDGE (b. 1958)
    In the Barn    
    Rural Route    
    Chemo Side Effects: Memory    
    Chemo Side Effects: Vision    
    First Days Back At Work    
    The River Pilgrim: A Letter    
    Monologue for Selah Bringing Spring to Whylah Falls    
    Lear of Whylah Falls    
    This Given Day    

    STEVEN HEIGHTON (b. 1961)
    The Machine Gunner    
    Address Book     
    Le Vaisseau d’Or    
    In Sparta    
    Selected Monsters

    LISA ROBERTSON (b. 1961)
    How to Judge    
    Battle Cry    
    from The Men    

    DAVID MCGIMPSEY (b. 1962)
    In Memoriam: A.H. Jr.    

    Index of Authors    
    Todd Swift
    Todd Swift was born in Montreal and moved to Britain in 2003. He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He has published six collections of poetry, including Seaway: New and Selected Poems (2008) and has edited special sections on Canadian poetry for New American Writin ... read more
    Evan Jones
    Greek-Canadian poet Evan Jones lives in Manchester. His first collection, Nothing Fell Today But Rain (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003), was a finalist for the Governor-General's Literary Award for Poetry. He co-edited Modern Canadian Poets (Carcanet, 2010) and his British debut, Paralogues, was published by Carcanet in 2012. He is Lecturer ... read more
    [T]he most daring reassessment of our country's canon in years... In a better world, which is to say an alternate reality, this compact and highly readable anthology would be the book your CanLit course makes you buy.
    Jason Guriel, Maisonneuve
    Riots broke out in downtown Montreal earlier in the month after the launch of a new anthology of contemporary Canadian verse at the Bloated Behemoth Book Store. That book, it was later discovered by a man who had subjected it to forensic examination, contained shockingly little verse by poets born in Canada. Several hailed from south of the border, and a third is said to have been resident in London (England), earning a meager living as an antiquarian book dealer and 'practising orientalist', for the past several decades. Margaret Atwood was not even represented in the collection...
    Michael Glover, The Bow-Wow Shop
    The reader...will experience sweet discoveries ranging from the territory of early twentieth century poets W.W.E. Ross and Alfred Bailey to later poets John Thompson and David Wevill, from French-Canadian Anne Hébert to the likes of Robyn Sarah, Don Coles, and Mary Dalton.
    Ingrid Ruthig, Northern Poetry Review
    Swift and Jones... have put together a wonderful anthology.
    Michael Lista, National Post
    This is a lovely book; full poems that really stand up, and to which you will keep returning.
    Ian Pople, The Manchester Review
      I could make a list of all my favourite Canadian poets who are excluded from this volume because of the editors' high modernist interests. But they have defined the story they want to tell, and they have every right to do so. There is no rule saying that editors have to be democratic or representative in their choices. And, given those choices, I like what they have done. I don't even have to be British to appreciate it!
    Robert Lecker, Canadian Literature
      I can think of no equivalent for what Swift and Jones have attempted: to rebuild a national canon from scratch using the most obscure figures. Is it subversive? Well, factor in that Carcanet is one of the U.K.'s leading poetry presses, that the last foreign-published Canadian poetry anthology appeared half a century ago, and that many British readers will take their first cues about Canadian poetry from this book - then you get a sense of the exhilarating sneak attack that has been perpetrated on our image abroad.
    Carmine Starnino, Quill & Quire
    Praise for Evan Jones 'Greek-Canadian poet Evan Jones certainly appears to inhabit easily the worlds of first millennium Rome and early second millennium Byzantium brought to life in these poems [...] It is almost reassuring in our even more turbulent times, to hope that a future Evan Jones might cast an equally cold eye on the reign of our own later emperors.'

    The High Window 

    'These are quiet poems that manage, with remarkable and deceptive simplicity, to get under the skin. I am delighted that lockdown made me acquainted with them.'

    Antony Mair

    'The trajectory of Jones' style deepens and intensifies as the book goes on; its music beautifully controlled to gather and sharpen. But, although his subjects are all aristocrats, there isn't a grandiloquent, unnecessary phrase in the whole collection. Plutarch and Gibbon may sit behind Evan Jones but Later Emperors is a lovely, unique working, whose contemporary relevance is never overt but subtly and sensitively implicit.'

    Ian Pople, The North
    'Jones's spare, evocative, and imagistic verse offers, through half-glimpsed narratives of ambition and loss, a rumination on the transience of things in this world [...] Later Emperors is a lyrical book, somber yet lovely. Rare among works of poetry today, it offers not only beauty but also a wisdom rooted in time and timelessness.'

    Benjamin Myers, World Literature Today

    'Later Emperors shows it's possible to write with the "sound of sense" while creating an allegory for our time. Jones uses the Roman Empire as a blueprint for learning from history, But his poems are not judgmental. They let readers see venality and decline, drawing from a range of personas steeped in the capricious nature of twin political valences' power and appetite.'

    Nyla Matuk, The Vehicule Press Blog

    'The poems in Later Emperors surprise and delight like those incisive, wry and honest inscriptions that come down to us from antiquity seemingly having survived everything, not least history's ravages. At the same time, there's a deeply distinctive literary wit at work in this book as Jones's lines limn (and update) the lives of the fleetingly powerful with the acuity and concision of Martial, the wit and heart of Horace. How those later emperors resemble the tyrants of our own time! What a skilled guide to them we have in Evan Jones!'
    Don Share
    Evan Jones is an intelligent, allusive poet who has elegantly synthesized his roots in Greek culture. These quietly serious poems throw up glimpses of dream and myth, and do so in a context of real thoughtfulness, free of rhetoric but rich in formal control.
    Fiona Sampson
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