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POETRY 351 Au chapitre de la critique romanesque, signalons que I'annee 1973 a vu naitre aux Presses de I'Universite de Montrealla tres utile et interessante collection 'Lignes que!>ecoises: dirigee par Albert Le Grand et Laurent Mailhot; y ont paru jusqu'ici Leo-Paul Desrosiers au Ie recit ambigu de Michelle Gelinas (149, $3.50), Germaine Guevremont: une route, une maison de Jean-Pierre Duquette (81, $2.50) , Huhert Aquin, agent double de Patricia Smart (139, $3.50), Jacques Ferron au pays des Amelanchiers de Jean-Pierre Boucher (113, $3.50). Mentionnons encore la parution des nos VI et VII de Voix et images du pays (Presses de I'Universite du Quebec, 211 et 270, $3.50 et $4.50); une etude de Gerard Bessette sur Trois Romanciers quebecois: V.-L. Beaulieu, A. Langevin et G. Roy (Eds du Jour, 240, $5.75) ; des essais de Maurice Emond: Yves Theriault et le combat de l'homme (HMH, 170, $4.50), et de Marc Gagne: Visages de Gabrielle Roy (Beauchemin, 327, $11.00). (GABRIELLE POULIN et RENE DIONNE) POETRY Irks care the crop-full bird? Well yes, Rabbi, it does: care and doubt at the prospect of digesting one thing more. Be advised then that the editor, mindful of my past woes, has urged me to be selective, to pluck from the year's thick press only those poets who interest me for one reason or another. The rest I may acknowledge as usual in an appendix of books received. Thus armed (against a sea of traubels, indigenous throstles, you name it), I should be merry. But it's not quite so easy. To find out which charm me most, I have to read through the whole choir. And having done that, I'm amazed how many seem worth a closer listen - whether because I'm punch-drunk, or because the muse has had a bumper year, someone else must help decide. So despite the editor's kindness, the difficulty remains: how to discriminate among so many that are worthwhile, and above all what to say about them. Adjectives are soon exhausted, and at my back Kenneth Clark murmurs in his lordly way 'Labels are for the second-rate.' The ideal would be the neat diagnostic phrase that goes to the heart of each poet, and recreates him in his unmistakable essence. But don't expect much of that. Consider me your humble Peterson, describing the habits and plumage of various songbirds and transliterating as best he can their 352 LETTERS IN CANADA distinctive warbles - not to judge them but to brief you for your own encounter, which no field guide can replace. The other cause of amazement is how many issue from Fred Cogswell's nest of singers, Fiddlehead Poetry Books: no fewer than 41 of the 72 separate titles received this year. Even after applying the editorial razor, the books published in New Brunswick outnumber those I would salute from other sources. Now add to this the mmour, confirmed by Cogswell himself, that his firm will go into abeyance next year, perhaps for longer, and a harder heart than mine must ask: what will all those brave robins do then? Where on the horizon is there another grand progenitor to polyphill this gap? Perhaps Air, a typewritten periodical out of Vancouver, which unknown to me has been producing six issues yearly since 1971. Its editions so far are folio pages folded and stapled, carelessly typed and proofread , with none of that sense of occasion that even the modest booklets from Fredericton confer. Granted, Air casts its net wider than other BC outfits I've encountered, such as the quirky Talonbooks or the lusher cotes of Sono Nis. But on this year's shOWing it falls short of the class and the generosity of Cogswell's enterprise, which seems to offer a roost to every wandering voice worth hearing and then some. Nor can we demand too much from Nancy Bauer's New Brunswick Chapbooks (which I take to be a shoot off the great fern), plagued by technical difficulties and struggling bravely to keep its prices down (60ยข each, a bargain). So let's see what the...


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pp. 351-364
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