A CRITICAL ANTHOLOGY OF ENGLISH-CANADIAN VERSE IN THE TIMES OF SIR WILFRED LAURIER AND WILLIAM LYON MACKENZIE KING (1896-1911 & 1921-1947)
|Kizuk, R. Alexander
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This book is a scholarly and critical anthology of 24 English-Canadian poets who wrote and enjoyed large audiences in the first four decades of the Twentieth Century. The poets included represent an entire generation of men and women poets whose careers have been neglected or simply over-shadowed by the success of, first, the Canadian Confederation generation of poets and then, second, the modernist
generation who became a dominant force in Canadian literature in the 1950s.
From the Foreword:
“. . . presents an alternate Canada made up of literary-minded people who shared a common feeling and sense of purpose motivating their writing. . . In Canada, between the Confederation-era writers and our early modernists falls a great shadow of obscurity. Canadians always seem keen to forget previous incarnations of the country, but Al Kizuk’s The Sunny Way offers proof that we have been too hasty mining contemporary and canonical
writing to notice such scattered gems from the past. ”
– Prof. Gregory Betts,
Table of Contents
The term for designating this pre-modernist generation, as explained in
detail in the Introduction, is “the sunny way,” a phrase taken from the
political rhetoric of Sir Wilfred Laurier’s Liberals and their successors under William Lyon Mackenzie King. This book contains good sized
selections of each of the “sunny way” poets included, so that the quality
of the poets’ life-works may be appreciated. The anthology also contains
a mixture of poems that had won wide readership in the past and poems chosen specifically for this volume; the purpose here is that it may be seen that these neglected poets are interesting in contemporary terms as well as in purely historical terms.
The poems included support the critical argument that the Sunny Way
generation of poets is the true precursor of Canadian poets like Al Purdy
or Don McKay: just as the Georgian poets in England can be said to be the true progenitors of poets like Philip Larkin and Seamus Heaney. Similarly,
a new interest among Canadian poets today in nature, spirituality, and
region (not modernist themes), can be seen as having its roots in the achievements of the Sunny Way generation. A similar movement is presently afoot in American poetry, as evidenced by the new resurgence
of interest in Robert Frost's poetic legacy.
The greatest care has been taken to collect and edit the selections in the
context of the poets’ milieu and the poems’ original presentation. The aspect of the ‘family romance,’ which is a part of the story of this generation of poets, have been carefully delineated with regard to the Livesays and the Robertses. Another interesting aspect of the generation’s work is the
elevation of Woman, or the Goddess, a literary trope that has its roots in
Romanticism, and which faded during the modernist era only to be revived in such contemporary poets as Robert Bly and Robert Graves. This motif
of a more feminine and domestic ground for the creation of the poetic art
is another trend that the anthology brings to light.
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