Saturday, 8 September 2007

Where is Alden Nowlan's Collected Poems?

Robert Bly called Alden Nowlan the greatest Canadian poet of the twentieth century, and time might very well prove him right, so the question must be asked, almost 25 years after the Nowlan’s death, why has there never been a comprehensive edition of his collected poems?
When I first took on the responsibility of being poetry editor for Insomniac Press in 2001, I ambitiously set out to bring such a book into existence. After asking around, I learned that Ross Leckie was already preparing Nowlan’s collected poems for Goose Lane Editions. Shortly thereafter, Leckie contacted me to ask if I had bought the rights to the project out from under his nose. I hadn’t, of course, but it seems that someone had. The Goose Lane project had to be scuttled because the rights were unavailable, but neither of us knew who was withholding the rights. The book and the mystery both ended there. No one came forward to claim responsibility, and while I have waited for this essential book to appear, nothing has come of it.
Despite the lack of a proper collected poems, Nowlan’s international reputation as a poet of the first rank continues to grow. That someone out there is purposefully preventing his collected poems from being published is nothing short of an abject transgression against literature. So, where is the Collected Poems of Alden Nowlan? Who is responsible for keeping this book from coming into existence? And what good reason could there possibly be for suppressing Nowlan’s rightful literary legacy? I, and many others, would like to know. More importantly, we want the book.

6 comments:

Zachariah Wells said...

Doesn't Anansi have the rights? If not, they should know who does, since their Selected Nowlan is still in print. Maybe they don't want any competition for it?

Paul Vermeersch said...

But Zach,

It is unthinkable, no, that a pillar of Canada's literary culture should stonewall the legacy of one our greatest poets?

Paul Vermeersch said...

*wink*

Zachariah Wells said...

Heh. Remind me to draw up a will leaving everything in the public domain...

Anonymous said...

Actually, there was a comprenhensive antology of his poems put out in the very late 1980s or 1990, bout. I had it and leant it to myh brother, who of course lost it.

The tgerrible thing is that it is impossible to find him in bookstores: in Canada you can always find Neruda, but try looking for Nowlan and you are screwed, even though he is far the better poet

Jannie Sue "Funster" said...

Not only a great Canadian poet but a great world-class one.

I had Smoked Glass but someone stole it, the bastard