In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

HUMANITIES '5' Norris's study will remain valuable, provided its limitations are understood. But what we really need is a book like that by Anderson and Kinzie - The Little Magazine in America: A Documentary History (1978). Such a book (the format of which allows editors and publishers to speak for themselves) would offer a more liberal, certainly a more vivid, and probably a more accurate account of the range and quality of poetic activity in this country during the past half-century. (WYNNE FRANCIS) Doris Hillis. Voices and Visions: Interviews with Saskatchewan Writers. Introduction by Eli Mandel Coteau. 228. $11.95 paper When Sarah Binks, Paul Hiebert's delightful satire on bad poetry and critical puffery, first appeared in '947, one of the sources of the humour was the well-understood ludicrousness of supposing that Saskatchewan could produce a serious poet. Not quite forty years later, the unimaginable has happened: Saskatchewan not only has poets, it has arguably the most vital literary culture in Canada. The change seems to have occurred in the early '970s, when literary magazines and publishers sprang up all over the prairies. This development was partly fallout from the literary renaissance of the 1960s, which was centred in Toronto and Vancouver, but it also marked a new sense of confidence in regional culture. What Doris Hillis's book of interviews suggests is that literary developments in Saskatchewan have also been affected by peculiar local conditions and institutions. Time and again, as Eli Mandel points out in his introduction, writers acknowledge their debt to the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, to the provincial Arts Board, to the Writers' Guild. The story is one ofa developing senseofcommunity, notthe drama and tension of conflicting schools and theories. The sense of co-operation which has shaped much ofSaskatchewan's social life, and manifests itself in the Wheat Pool, the Co-ops, and the CCF, appears to have shaped its literary life as well. Perhaps, as poet and novelist Terrence Heath observes, 'Saskatchewan writers get along well together [because] we're all telling the same story and none ofus has it all' (p 136). And, like the rest of Saskatchewan's population, the writing community is decentralized; writers live not just in Regina and Saskatoon, but in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and remote villages and isolated farms. Perhaps the sense of distance has intensified the need for community. Hillis has interviewed thirteen writers who work in various forms, and promises another volume later; the area is far from exhausted. Some of the writers have national reputations (Guy Vanderhaeghe, Anne Szumigalski , Patrick Lane, Lorna Crozier, Ken Mitchell), while others are still known mostly at the local level (Gertrude Story, John Hicks, Elizabeth Allen). Several work in local literary publishing (Robert Currie, Glen Sorestad, Brenda Riches), and give us a sense of the part that literary journals and small presses have played in developing writers. Doinga book ofinterviews isn'tas easy as it looks; one can'tjust plunka tape recorder down in front of a subject, ask some questions, and transcribe the results. The interviewer must do his research carefuUy, and be able to gain the subject's confidence. Hillis has obviously done her homework; she knows these writers' works, and her knowledge appears to be the key to the free flow of talk which she evokes from them about their notions of art, their working methods, their sources of encouragement , their sense of a physical, social, and cultural context. There are some wonderful moments - Anne Szumigalski explaining how she feels more at home on the prairies than she ever did in her English birthplace; Lorna Crozier envisioning the paring-down process of poetic creation as eventually arriving at a single word; Terrence Heath's comments on how regional writers are moving into non-regional subjects; Ken Mitchell on the imminent end of books. These and other moments of vision make the book a resource for understanding not only a region's culture but also the .process of writing itself. (PAUL DENHAM) Robert Kroetsch and Reingard M. Nischik, editors. Gaining Ground: European Critics on Canadian Literature Western Canadian Literary Documents Series 6. NeWest Press. 303. $18.95, $8.95 paper 'Canada is...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 151-152
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.