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Once There Were Giants

The Modern Montreal Poets Who Set Out to Build a National Literature

by David O'Rourke

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list price: $36.95
published: 2021
publisher: Cormorant Books

When Patrick Anderson, P.K. Page, F.R. Scott and others set up Preview Magazine, they were doing more than creating a vehicle to publish their high modernist poetry, which they were having difficulties publishing elsewhere. They were taking the first steps towards consciously building a Canadian literature. When John Sutherland established First Statement, he was taking the next step — publishing Louis Dudek and Irving Layton, poets from Montreal's working class. Between the establishment of the first magazine and the decline of the second, many of Canada's greatest poets found early homes for their poems and laid down the foundation for our literary culture.

In a series of interviews conducted in the 1980s with F.R.Scott, P.K. Page, Betty Layton, Irving Layton, Audrey Sutherland, and Louis Dudek, David O'Rourke creates a vivid oral history of the times, places, and people deeply involved in Preview and First Statement. A story evolves that is akin to a novel — complete with literary rivalries, cold garrets, love affairs, and great poetry. Samples of the poetry of these giants complete the book — and include work by A.M. Klein, A.J.M. Smith, Miriam Waddington, and Raymond Souster.

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About the Author

David O'Rourke

David O'Rourke has taught at Centennial College and the University of Toronto. He studied under Irving Layton and was co-author with Layton of Waiting for the Messiah. He lives in Port Hope, Ontario.
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