Friday, September 18, 2009

I Am Here And Not Not-There — Martin

This week I received a large package in the mail. I opened it to find the 352-page volume I Am Here And Not Not-There: An Autobiography. It is the autobiography of Margaret Avison — the exceptional Canadian poet who passed away on July 31, 2007. Not only is Margaret Avison one of the most celebrated poets Canada has ever had — having won the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1960 and 1990, and the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2003 — but she participated with The Word Guild by twice contributing to the Write! Toronto conference, and by being the winner of the Leslie K. Tarr Career Achievement Award in 2005.

I am not writing of this book, so much, to encourage you to buy it — unless you are a long-time fan of Avison — but primarily to point out the weight of her contribution. Sarah Klassen once wrote in Prairie Fire, “It is Avison’s unique accomplishment to write, in and for a secular world, about faith and God, with intelligence and without becoming either sentimental or preachy.” Surprisingly, it is the secular literary community — not the church — that has most valued Avison’s legacy.

I think it’s high time that we begin to celebrate Margaret Avison! I admit that her poetry is difficult to access, but for good readers it is within reach. I have written of her final collection, Listening (McClelland & Stewart), in an essay that will appear in the Winter issue of Arc — Canada’s National Poetry Magazine. I would encourage you to buy a copy of Listening or her second-last collection Momentary Dark, as a great starting point for an appreciation of this “national treasure”.

I am pleased to say that the interview I did with Margaret Avison at the Write! Toronto conference in 2004, which appeared in the American journal Image, has been included in this book.

I Am Here And Not Not-There is published by The Porcupine’s Quill

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at:

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Hello Don,
Thank you for this tribute to Margaret Avison. You've again helped me become better acquainted with the impact, life, and work of a true artist who has honoured the Lord through words.

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