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HUMANITIES 451 consequent on having different languages and history and get the shared dilemma of the dislocation of language and history. This seems to me a serious thesis and one that could provide an intelligible structure for coherent analysis. We may have to conclude that simplistic handling of thematic criticism that makes no use of historical documentation or at least of a comparative methodology is simply inadequate for so complex a subject as Canadian literature and identity. In fourteen pages the concluding chapter reveals more of the Canadian identity that has been Moss's subject than all the earlier concern with indigenous sex and violence. In fact this chapter is the basis of a new book which could be eminently valuable for the literature in a culturally responsible way. (ROSEMARY SULLIVAN) Keith Richardson. Poetry alld tile Colonized Mind: Tish Mosaic PressNaUey Editions 1976. 79· $3·95 Frank Davey, editor. Tish No. 1- 19 Talonbooks "975· 433· $12·95 The thesis of Keith Richardson's polemical little book, explicit in its title, is reiterated in the introduction: 'In taking on the poetics of the [American ] Black Mountain group, Tish also took on its political and cultural · values which were anarchistic, individualistic and indifferent to Canadian culture and social tradition.' The author is concerned that 'extant criticism does not put Tish's belief in the Black Mountain poetics into relation with Tish's dismissal of Canadian cultural tradition.' Such a study of this little magazine in the broader literary and cultural context of Canada in the sixties is potentially quite useful, especially if Black Mountain poetics could be seen in relation to the successive waves of influence which have characterized modern Canadian poetry. Unfortunately, this critic lacks the methodology, the wide-ranging knowledge of the field, and the critical tact which would make such a study possible. Too often, literary criticism is displaced by polemic, by rhetorical terms like 'imperialist invasion' and 'anarchistic individualism.' What this book does offer is a solid historical account of the successive issues of Tish. Richardson distinguishes the four editorial periods of the little magazine and comments sensibly on each. The magazine appeared in September 1961 generated by a visit from Black Mountain poet Robert Duncan, and midwifed by Warren Tallman, a professor at the University of British Columbia. It ran until 1969 and published 45 issues. During this period Frank Davey, George Bowering, Fred Wah, and Daphne Marlatt emerged as Tish poets. Richardson fully demonstrates the indebtedness of the Tish poetic to the theories of the Black Mountain 452 LETTERS IN CANADA "977 Group, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Duncan. But his contention that this poetic derivation is evidence of cultural colonialism is asserted rather than proven. This is partly because Richardson does not attempt to tackle some of the larger questions central to his argument: What is the Canadian tradition in poetry? What is the role of poetic influence in the largest sense? Furthermore, the didacticism of his approach does not allow the writer to recognize some of the complications inherent in his subject, complications which must be faced if an accurate statement about the nature of influence of the Tish group is to be made. The first of these relates to the qualities of 'anarchy' and 'individualism ' which, together with a rejection of Canadian cultural values, Richardson finds characteristic in Tish poets. Although these terms are not defined, it is clear that they are meant to be seen in contrast to their opposites, presumably the 'order' and 'community orientation: which might characterize a Canadian cultural and poetic tradition. The problem with this displacement from the literary to the political is that, although 'anarchy' and 'individualism' are pejorative terms when considered in the context of Canadian nationalist criticism, they are highly positive terms when considered within the literary context of a romantic tradition . And the Tishites were, above all, romantic poets. To read through the successive copies of Tish, or even the first series of the magazine, Tish No. 1-19 recently edited by Frank Davey, is to recognize the sheer vitality of a group of impressionable young poets struggling to work out an acceptable poetic theory. That combination of rebellion and poetic faith which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 451-454
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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