South of North: Images of Canada

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9780889842984: South of North: Images of Canada
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A posthumous collection of uncommon plainsong from the poet Richard Outram, with drawings by Thoreau MacDonald.

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About the Author:

Outram was born in Canada in 1930. He was a graduate of the University of Toronto (English and Philosophy), and worked for many years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a stagehand crew leader. He wrote more than twenty books, four of these published by the Porcupine's Quill (Man in Love [1985], Hiram and Jenny [1988], Mogul Recollected [1993], and Dove Legend [2001]). He won the City of Toronto Book Award in 1999 for his collection Benedict Abroad (St Thomas Poetry Series). His poetry is the subject of a significant work of literary criticism, Through Darkling Air: The Poetry of Richard Outram, by Peter Sanger (Gaspereau Press, 2010).

Richard Outram died in 2005.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A year before his death on 21 January 2005, Richard Outram presented the editors with a manuscript of 115 unpublished poems entitled South of North: Images of Canada. The collection was in no particular order. The poems were written in the space of three months in response to a request from the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. To celebrate the Club's ninetieth anniversary in 1998 they had asked him to provide the text of a song cycle commissioned for the composer Srul Irving Gluck. Of the fifty-four poems presented to him, Gluck chose eight, setting them for baritone/mezzo-soprano and piano. The songs were performed with the title of South of North: In Honour of Thoreau MacDonald 1901-1989.

Thoreau MacDonald was the son of the Group of Seven's J. E. H. MacDonald, a member of the Arts and Letters Club. Richard had long admired Thoreau's work, maintaining he was the finest graphic artist of them all. He insisted simplicity and restraint are among the most difficult achievements of art. Thoreau agreed, writing of his work, `These pictures are attempts to show the Harmony and Design of Nature in a small space ... as a picture is so limited it is best to eliminate the unnecessary and accentuate the essentials ... they represent more the spirit and feeling of the place and time than outer appearance.'

Thoreau's spare, evocative pictures drew from Richard a different aspect of his mastery. The poems are quick, vividly immediate, instant of access. They are the visible, audible delights of a consummate poet's recognition of an artist as passionately involved -- as Richard was himself -- with animals, country and the practical accomplishment of tasks. Both men were deeply grieved by the despoilation of this world.

Unable to sort and arrange the poems and choose illustrations to make a coherent manuscript, Richard had many conversations with us about its possibilities. He lived to see a preliminary draught. We selected these poems close to the spirit of Thoreau's pictures by season, vocation and place. Richard was the guiding hand in placing the poems beside those which were their direct inspirations.

The last poem was chosen, not for an obvious relation to any illustration, but for its quiet, profound melding in nursery rhyme, of Babylon, that destroyed cradle of civilization, with Canada. It lies on the page as a dignified statement and warning of the extent of the loss occurring around us. `Unless the prevailing misrule is corrected ... a heritage loved and inhabited as such' will be gone. We will not find it again. `Not before dark.'

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Richard Outram
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Book Description Erin, Ontario, Canada: Porcupines Quill, 2007. Soft cover. Condition: New. 1st Edition. Original printed wraps. 128 pp. Octavo. A posthumous collection of uncommon plainsong from the poet Richard Outram, with drawings by Thoreau MacDonald. Printed offset by Tim Inkster on the Heidelberg KORD at the printing office of the Porcupine's Quill in the Village of Erin, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada. Smyth sewn into 16-page signatures with hand-tipped endleaves front and back. Seller Inventory # 9780889842984

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