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vii Foreword At the beginning of the twenty-first century, poetry in Canada—writing and publishing it, reading and thinking about it—finds itself in a strangely con- flicted place. We have many strong poets continuing to produce exciting new work, and there is still a small audience for poetry; but increasingly, poetry is becoming a vulnerable art, for reasons that don’t need to be rehearsed. But there are things to be done: we need more real engagement with our poets. There needs to be more access to their work in more venues—in classrooms , in the public arena, in the media—and there need to be more, and more different kinds, of publications that make the wide range of our contemporary poetry more widely available. The hope that animates this series from Wilfrid Laurier University Press is that these volumes help to create and sustain the larger readership that contemporary Canadian poetry so richly deserves. Like our fiction writers, our poets are much celebrated abroad; they should just as properly be better known at home. Our idea is to ask a critic (sometimes herself a poet) to select thirty-five poems from across a poet’s career; write an engaging, accessible introduction; and have the poet write an afterword. In this way, we think that the usual practice of teaching a poet through eight or twelve poems from an anthology is much improved upon; and readers in and out of classrooms will have more useful, engaging, and comprehensive introductions to a poet’s work. Readers might also come to see more readily, we hope, the connections among, as well as the distances between, the life and the work. It was the ending of an Al Purdy poem that gave Margaret Laurence the epigraph for The Diviners: “but they had their being once / and left a place to stand on.” Our poets still do, and they are leaving many places to stand on. We hope that this series helps, variously, to show how and why this is so. —Neil Besner General Editor ...


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