Monday, December 18, 2006

Canada's newest parliamentary poet laureate named

December 18, 2006
This past year, the board of directors of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland & Labrador took the opportunity to nominate a candidate for Canada's next poet laureate. As the organization's president last year, I am extremely pleased to say that our candidate was named to the position on December 4th. For many years, poet John Steffler lived and taught in Newfoundland, and I'm a real fan of his work. An unabridged audio edition of one of his books, The Grey Islands, will be released by Rattling Books in March, 2007.

It's a terrific read. Here's what Rattling Books distributor, Anansi Press, says about The Grey Islands:

A novel in the form of poems, a physical exploration of Newfoundland's past, a search for ghosts in an abandoned settlement on an abandoned island, this is the story of a come-from-away determined to immerse himself in the physical reality of Newfoundland in an abrupt and inescapable way.

Indisputably a modern classic of Canadian poetry, The Grey Islands is one man's mediation on the interplay between nature and human society in the rugged setting of coastal Newfoundland. The boats and houses of those who tried to live on the Grey Islands have disappeared, but their stories survive in the neighboring settlements -- stories of treks on the sea ice, of near-starvation, of hunting ducks at night with muskets loaded with everything from nails to the parts of a gold pocket watch. Originally published in 1985 by McClelland and Stewart. Now published in print form by Brick Books.

For those of you wondering where the Grey Islands are, they are steeply cliffed and wild islands (home to Newfoundland's largest eider duck population) about 15km southeast of the community of Conche on the Great Northern Peninsula.

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