A Dramatic Story Missed

Hilda Vanneste, Northern Review 1945-1956: a History and an Index. Ottawa: The Tecumseh Press, 1982.

CIV/n: A Literary Magazine of the 50s.  Ed. Aileen Collins. Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1983.

CIV/n: A Literary Magazine of the 50s is a triumph—for Simon Dardick of Véhicule Press who designed it, for Aileen Collins who, with Dardick’s assistance, edited it, and for all who were engaged in its planning and production. As a book, it is a comfortable size (just under 300 pages, 9" by 6"); it has a most attractive glossy paper cover, is well-bound, and nicely printed on quality paper. Its contents include a modest, nostalgic introduction by Aileen Collins (editor of the original magazine); a flattering reprint of the seven issues of CIV/n1 (reduced and justified, including the original covers and illustrations); a reprint of Michael Gnarowski’s Index to CIV/n, which includes the retrospective note supplied by Louis Dudek in 1965; a short article by Irving Layton, “Recalling the 1950s;” and a longer essay by Ken Norris, “The Significance of Contact and CIV/n.”  The last few pages of the book offer snapshots, taken then and now, of the writers and artists involved with the original magazine; and finally, reproductions of letters to Aileen Collins in 1953-1954 (two from Raymond Souster, and one, a brief note, from Charles Olson). All considered, this is a book that may well be picked off the stands and read with enjoyment even by readers who have no special interest in poetry, little magazines, or literary history.

     Such readers will not be attracted to Northern Review 1945-1956: a History and an Index, despite its bright green cover. This chunky paperback is a no-frills production intended for academic consumption. Unfortunately, its 300 pulp-paper pages of photo-reduced typescript will become yellow and brittle all too soon.  Its content is all too obviously a graduate thesis, replete with copious quotations and 300 footnotes. The author, Hilda Vanneste, has left no shred of evidence unexamined that might lead to a full understanding of the background, character, and fate of Northern Review and its editor, John Sutherland. It is all the more regrettable, therefore, that the product of her painstaking research has been rushed into publication before being suitably edited, or even thoroughly proofread. Her publishers, The Tecumseh Press, may argue that the cost of fine production is prohibitive, and that putting the fruits of scholarship into circulation as promptly as possible takes priority over matters of style and physical appearance. But both the material that Vanneste has gathered, and her monumental effort to organize it, deserve better treatment.

     Attractive or not, both books will interest anyone who tries to follow the intricate, serious game of poetry politics in this country—especially as it is played by Montreal poets. Emerging from two quite different perspectives, these two works dovetail in their treatment of the decade between the mid-1940s and the mid-1950s, a period when the future of Canadian poetry was held in balance by various little magainzes and small presses.

     The poetics known as ‘social realism’2 is commonly identified with John Sutherland, and with the poets (Louis Dudek and Irving Layton) who worked with him on First Statement magazine in the early 1940s. Vanneste’s study shows, however, that Sutherland’s primary goal, even in those days, was to promote the nativist strand of Canadian poetry. This was the basis of his opposition to the ‘cosmopolitanism’ of A.J.M. Smith, and to the ‘British colonialism’ of the Preview poets. And despite the fact that, as editor of Northern Review, his policy was somewhat erratic, he remained essentially faithful to his own vision of literary nationalism.

     As Vanneste implies, the conservatism that characterized Northern Review in the 1950s was regretted mainly by those who felt that the development of poetry in Canada at mid-century demanded a more radical and innovative approach. It was Layton and Dudek who had provided the thrust of social realism to First Statement; and it was doubtless their aggressive ‘proletarianism’ that drew Sutherland out of his orbit, for a time, in the 1940s. But, especially after 1948, neither Layton nor Dudek had much to do with the direction of Northern Review, or with First Statement Press. These poets, and Raymond Souster, watched from the sidelines with growing dismay, impatience, and regret, as Sutherland ‘lapsed’ into a conservative, anti-Modernist, and ‘narrow’ nationalism. In 1951, having agreed that Northern Review no longer served their interest, the three poets made plans to launch new outlets for their own work, and for that of other poets of social realist persuasion. Souster’s Contact magazine, and a poets’ cooperative (Contact Press), were started in 1952; CIV/n was founded in 1953.

     Vanneste chronicles Sutherland’s recoil from Modernism; his increasing isolation from former colleagues; his valiant struggle to establish Northern Review as ‘a national magazine of writing and the arts;’ his developing interest in E.J. Pratt, and in Catholic writers such as Roy Campbell and Peter Viereck; and his growing preoccupation with the religious dimension of the literary tradition. Even before his move to Toronto, and his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1954, his health had begun to decline, and so had the magazine. Northern Review ceased publication when Sutherland died in 1956.

     In her “Provisional Conclusion,” Vanneste notes that while Northern Review “failed to provide an acceptable critical framework for Canadian writing” it did stimulate the publishing activities of other writers. In particular, she notes, “The Contact poets, Dudek, Souster and Layton defined their poetics in reaction to Sutherland’s nativism and literary conservatism as expressed in the pages of Northern Review.”3

     Vanneste’s book thus ends where CIV/n: a Literary Magazine of the 50s begins.  Those readers who have Vanneste’s study freshly in mind when they come to read the reprint of CIV/n will be able to appreciate a number of allusions and subtleties that might otherwise be missed.4   However, while responding to the pride and enthusiasm of the latter book, one should not be led to the conclusion that Contact and CIV/n “succeeded” where Northern Review had “failed.”  That would be nonsense. John Sutherland (by 1949 at the latest, and probably much earlier) had in mind not a scrappy, avant-garde little magazine of whatever persuasion, but rather an urbane national quarterly of the arts, “sufficiently comprehensive in size and scope to interest intelligent readers everywhere in Canada.”5  That Sutherland attempted such a goal is commendable; that Northern Review, in its last years, fell far short of it, is regrettable. One should note that the kind of magazine Sutherland might have approved of did appear within the year of his death. The Tamarack Review (1956-1982), though more ‘cosmopolitan’ than ‘nativist,’ is in a direct line of descent from Northern Review as Sutherland conceived of it—i.e., a “small” conservative magazine of national scope, rather than a radical “little” magazine.

     Vanneste’s impressive study is the most recent in a line of scholarly investigations initiated by Michael Gnarowski. As a student and friend of Louis Dudek in the mid-1950s, Gnarowski adopted the revitalized cause of ‘social realism. ‘Over the years since then he has been in large part responsible (as a scholar, editor, publisher, and teacher) for the currency that term has enjoyed in academic circles. In particular, through his own efforts and those of his students, he has made available various scholarly tools (indexes, check lists, reprints, and background materials) for the study of the little magazine and small press activities of the Montreal poets, and of Dudek and Souster especially.6

     Gnarowski’s Index to CIV/n (1965) is reprinted in Véhicule’s CIV/n: a Literary Magazine of the 50s. That is the extent of his contribution to this book but those who are familiar with his position—his emphasis on the nativist strain of the literary tradition, his focus on ‘Eastern’ Canadian writing (east of Toronto, that is), his antipathy to the American influence on contemporary Canadian poetry, his staunch and continuing support of Louis Dudek as “the prime voice in that school which came to the fore in the 1940s, and which has since been loosely labelled ‘social realist,’”7 will find much to ponder between his perspective and that represented by Ken Norris’ concluding essay “The Significance of Contact and CIV/n.”

     Before looking more closely at Norris’ essay, we may note that the decision to reprint CIV/n is part of a “Dudek revival” that has been underway since the mid-1970s. Among those responsible for that revival is Frank Davey.  Throughout the 1950s, and 1960s, Dudek was especially antipathetic to Black Mountain poetics.  However, come the 1960s, he was not inhospitable to Tish.8  As early as 1962, he invited Tish editor Frank Davey to guest-edit “The New Vancouver Poetry” issue of Delta (No. 19 [October, 1962]); and he continued thereafter to keep a watchful, if wary, eye on the development of individual members of the Tish group. (Later, he remarked that Frank Davey reminded him of the young John Sutherland.)

     In 1965, Davey wrote an article “Black Days on Black Mountain” (Tamarack Review, No. 35 [Spring, 1965], 62-71) in which he put forth the idea that the American influence on Canadian poets had been longstanding, pervasive, and salutary.  Dudek’s reply “Lunchtime Reflections on Frank Davey’s Defence of the Black Mountain Fort” (Tamarack Review, No. 36 [Summer, 1965], 58-63) corrected a number of Davey’s misconceptions.   More importantly, it helped to clarify Dudek’s own position, and his (otherwise ambiguous, and perhaps ambivalent) attitude towards Tish.  Dudek made several important distinctions in this article—between Pound and Williams; Olson and Creeley; Tish poets and certain other Canadian Modernists—and he noted that “something of which Black Mountain itself is a late development lies behind most of our modern poetry. . . .  But the mainstream is not the Mountain branch.” And he added “—the main line of continuing modern development runs through Scott, Souster, Purdy—and at present centres clearly in the activity in Vancouver.” This, coming from Dudek in 1965, puzzled many of his readers; but it paved the way for a revision of the tradition of Modernism in Canadian poetry.

     Despite its title, The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada (1967), edited by Dudek and Gnarowski, did not provide that revision.  Rightly or wrongly, this textbook collection of “essential” critical articles, documents, and editorial interpolations was regarded by many readers as an attempt to entrench social realism as a main line against the inroads being made by Tish/Black Mountain poetics. In any case, it failed to take adequate account of the momentous developments in the 1960s. In 1974, Frank Davey (by that time closely connected with the avant-garde Coach House Press, and founding editor of the postmodernist critical journal Open Letter) published From There to Here: A Guide to English Canadian Literature Since 1960. This controversial book offered a radically new perspective on Modernism in Canada, shifting attention from theme, and from content (cf. social realism) to linguistic and structural elements.  In his entry on Dudek, Davey proclaimed that Dudek has had “the most influence on subsequent generations of Canadian poetry of any poet in Canadian history.” And he added that, in his experiments with the structure of the long meditational poem, Dudek has been followed by Bowering, Victor Coleman, Daphne Marlatt, Frank Davey, bp Nichol and Dennis Lee.”9

     Meanwhile, in the 1970s, Montreal once again came alive as a centre for English Canadian poetry.  (Some say this began to happen in 1969 when Bowering came to teach for a time at Sir George Williams University.) Ken Norris, in his recent doctoral dissertation on the history of little magazines in Canada,10 spends a lengthy penultimate chapter on the numerous Montreal magazines and presses of the 1970s. He himself, as poet, editor, and publisher, helped to generate much of the activity—and the fruitful tensions—among the many poets who contributed to the Montreal renaissance.

     Norris came to Montreal from the United States in the early 1970s, when Dudek was, as Norris puts it, no longer a ‘scenemaker.’ After he was enrolled as a graduate student at McGill in 1975, Norris came to know Dudek personally. The relationship was, according to Norris, mutually enlightening.  Norris learned to appreciate Dudek’s poetics; and Dudek acquired more sympathy for the experimental work of the younger Montreal poets, especially those centred on Norris’ magazine Cross Country, and the Vehicule Press. Since then, Dudek has engaged in lively poetic intercourse with the “Vehicule” poets; and they, in turn, have published several of his books.

     These poets, Norris suggests, belong to the generation Dudek had called for (prematurely) in 1952, in his stirring “Ou Sont les Jeunes?” editorial for the first issue of Souster’s magazine, Contact. Father Dudek, slow to recognize his progeny, has “finally been able to identify his true poetic heirs,” says Norris, and “can now see the relationship, say, between bp Nichol’s The Martyrology and his own Atlantis.”  These impressions (of Dudek in the mid-1970s) are offered by Norris in a recent book, published by Gnarowski’s Golden Dog Press in 1983, entitled Louis Dudek: a Biographical Introduction to his Poetry, by Susan Stromberg-Stein.11 The latter half of this book is largely devoted to excerpts (which read much like testimonials) from interviews held by the author with several of Dudek’s friends, admirers, and former students. Neither Gnarowski nor Davey is represented. Norris is; and it is here that he tells us that he once dreamed that he was Dudek’s adopted son, “and it is true that I sometimes feel that way” (p. 9).

     Given such circumstances, and such affinities, it seems fitting that Vehicule Press should publish the handsome reprint of CIV/n, and that Ken Norris should write the concluding essay. Why CIV/n? One reason is that, in the extensive coverage of Dudek’s career provided by the various contributions to the Dudek revival, CIV/n, and Dudek’s role in relation to it, have so far received too little attention.

     “The Significance of Contact and CIV/n” picks up the saga of the Montreal poets where Vanneste left off, i.e., with the dissatisfaction Souster, Dudek and Layton felt with Northern Review.  Norris sketches in the background and then gives us a profile of Souster’s Contact (1952-54). For the first issue, Dudek wrote his challenging editorial “Ou Sont les Jeunes?” which began “Poetry in Canada needs a new start,” and asked “Where is the ‘new’ generation?” Clearly, Dudek felt that the primary purpose of Contact was, as Norris says, “to revitalize the flagging Canadian poetry scene.” But Souster’s policy was unabashedly international, and while he did continue to publish some Canadian poets, he showed an increasing sympathy for the work of the Origin/Black Mountain group. When Dudek saw, by the fifth issue, that Souster could not be dissuaded from his international orientation, he lost much of his enthusiasm for the magazine.  Norris does not put it this way. He blurs the picture by statements such as “Dudek and Souster shared with members of the Origin group their primary sources, the joint masters of the Canadian and Black Mountain group: Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams,” whereas we know that Dudek detested Olson’s poetics while Souster was very much impressed by Olson’s theories; and that Dudek was a Pound enthusiast while Souster regarded Poundism as a cult.12

     Norris concludes his discussion with the following estimate of Contact’s significance:

The “Black Mountain” poetic would literally revolutionize Canadian poetry, stimulating the new wave that was to occur in the sixties, a direction that Souster, completely sympathetic to this development, would anthologize in his Contact Press anthology New Wave Canada. The shift from British to American influences would finally be achieved; Contact played an extremely important part in this shift.

A fair enough view of Contact, to be sure, and of Souster’s role. But Norris has managed to ignore, almost completely, the conflict between Souster and Dudek over the American orientation of Contact. And then, of the origin of CIV/n, he writes, simplistically, “Souster’s attempts to counter the effects of Northern Review through Contact were bolstered by the appearance of CIV/n originating in Montreal in 1953.”  This leaves the impression of a cozy relationship between two magazines with a single purpose. And yet, as long ago as 1966, Gnarowski had thoroughly documented the fact that Dudek deplored Souster’s policy of internationalism, that he especially resented Cid Corman’s attempts to influence Souster, and that, upon realizing that he had failed to persuade Souster to change his policy, Dudek welcomed the founding of CIV/n as a “local” workshop magazine with a definitely Canadian orientation.13

     The first three issues of CIVln (1953-55) were devoted, almost exclusively, to Canadian poets; and in the course of its seven lively issues, this magazine published (in addition to work by Dudek, Layton and Souster) numerous young ‘local’ writers, including Eli Mandel, Phyllis Webb, Miriam Waddington, Gael Turnbull, and Leonard Cohen.  Then, as Norris notes, “Issue #4 reflects an expansion in the scope of the magazine in that work by members of Corman’s Origin group were now in evidence.” Indeed, a quick check of Gnarowski’s Index reveals that numbers 4, 5, 6, and 7 (i.e., four out of a total of seven issues of CIV/n) contain poems by Americans: Corman (2), Creeley (10), Olson (1), Jonathan Williams (1), as well as numerous items relating to Ezra Pound. The emphasis on Pound is certainly owing to Dudek; but, given Dudek’s declared antipathies, and his concern for the local and Canadian character of CIV/n, what do we make of the appearance therein of the Origin/Black Mountain poets? True, their presence in #5 is offset, in that same issue, by Dudek’s unsympathetic review of books by Blackburn, Creeley, and Olson. Norris draws our attention to Dudek’s objections to Olson’s work, in particular, but adds “Dudek’s criticism, however, was followed in this issue of CIV/n by Creeley’s “A Note On Poetry,” which is an affirmation of the Black Mountain poetic approach.” An affirmation by whom?  Surely not by Dudek? But, of course, we must remember that Dudek was not the editor of CIV/n; his role was ‘advisory.’14 We may conclude, then, that on this occasion at least, Creeley’s piece appeared by the good grace of editor Aileen Collins, perhaps while Dudek was out of town.

     Norris seems dimly aware of the incongruity of the presence of the Americans in CIV/n, but he does not concern himself with the question of how or why they got there.  Instead, he concludes his essay with the following bland observation: “Layton, Souster and Dudek appeared side-by-side with Olson, Creeley, Corman and others of the Black Mountain group because they all shared a tangible commitment to poetry, to keep it moving ahead and to write it in the real language of the day.”

     At this point, let us recall some wise words by Father Dudek himself.  Writing to the editors of The Golden Dog (No. 4, November, 1974), Dudek warned “—when we study these group magazines we always find that the group is made up of antithetical individuals, and the interaction of the individuals is the real dramatic story of the magazine, not the unity of the magazine or group as such.” Dudek was here referring to First Statement15 but his words are equally pertinent to CIV/n. The truly “antithetical” individuals involved with CIV/n were Louis Dudek and Irving Layton, and the “real dramatic story” of this magazine derives from the tensions between them.

     During the 1950s, each of these poets was undergoing a transformation of the perception of his role as a poet. Dudek’s early apprehension of the social significance of poetry was strengthened and broadened by his studies at Columbia University under the tutelage of Lionel Trilling and other luminaries. During the years of CIV/n, he was completing his doctoral thesis on the history of the printing press and the deleterious effects of mass circulation journalism on literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.16 (One might note, in passing, that it was during the mid-1950s that Marshall McLuhan emerged as a major theorist in the field of mass media studies.)

     Meanwhile, the public controversy over the awarding of the Bollingen Prize to Ezra Pound had inspired many young writers to study his work. Dudek became a Pound enthusiast. What impressed him most, I venture to speculate, was the grandeur of the Cantos as a life-long poetic enterprise; and then, Pound’s elitist perception of the poet as a critic of the quality of life, of poetry as a gauge of the health of a culture, and of language as the test of the integrity and authenticity of the poem. I believe that Dudek, in the 1950s, aspired to play the role of Ezra Pound in Canada—as a generator and catalyst of poetic energies, as an entrepreneur in small press publishing, as an innovator in the theoretical and technical aspects of poetry, and as a critic and shaper of Canadian literature and culture. Note, for example, his challenging review, in CIV/n, of the work of communication analysts H.A. Innis and Marshall McLuhan, and (later) his attacks on the literary and cultural theories put forth by Northrop Frye.  Note also his experiments with the long poem, begun in the 1950s and inspired no doubt by the Cantos but geared to his own theories of what he would later call “Functional Poetry.” (Europe, his first long meditational poem, was published in 1954.)

     Layton, in the 1950s was heading in quite another direction.  He could not be persuaded, in the early 1950s, to read the Cantos; his interest in Pound was confined to the rage they shared against the bourgeois. (See Layton’s essay “Shaw, Pound and Poetry” in CIV/n #7.) During these years, Layton was molding his own poetry out of an unfashionable blend of Marxism and Nietzschism with his own Hebraic sensibility. This was an undertaking that led, eventually, to his perception of himself as a poet-prophet in line with the Old Testament, the European prophetic tradition, and writers like Blake and Yeats.  In addition, Layton in the 1950s was, like Dudek, seeking recognition for his own work and that of other poets whom he favoured.  Both men had “disciples”; both men strove to create an atmosphere in Canada in which vital poetry could flourish.  But Layton was not a theorist.  He set out to transform the world with his poems, and he fuelled his campaign not with essays on poetics but with polemics.

     It would be hard to choose, on the basis of scope and seriousness of purpose, between the respective aspirations of Dudek and Layton in the 1950s. Nor should we perpetuate the myth that one was arrogant, the other humble; one reserved and full of sweet reasonableness, the other aggressive and bursting with unbridled passions. In the 1950s both Dudek and Layton had well-developed egos and strong personalities. They clashed, repeatedly.

     Of the relation of these two dynamic individuals to CIV/n, Norris’ only comment is: “Despite Dudek’s contention that he and Layton tried to stay in the background, their presence was very much felt.”  Yet even the limited evidence now available confirms that CIV/n, and Contact press, served as focal points, from time to time, of the conflict brewing between Dudek and Layton.17   It is time to look behind the scenes of CIV/n.

     Dudek’s objections to Origin/Black Mountain poetics, in general, were based on aesthetic grounds. The Americans, he felt, had misread Pound. They were writing what he described as “the private-monologue-inprivate-shorthand,” and thereby jeopardizing the social and cultural import of poetry. Dudek did not want to see this kind of poetry encouraged in Canada. There were also, however, more personal and pragmatic grounds for his resistance.

     The Americans, for their part, did not like Dudek’s poetry any more than he liked theirs. Corman, for example, refused to publish parts of Dudek’s “Europe” in Origin. However, as the correspondence (between Souster and Corman, between Corman and Layton, and between Layton and Creeley) reveals, the Americans were eager, in the mid-1950s, to have their own work published in Contact and CIV/n. Corman, especially, wanted Contact Press to bring out a book of his poems. Souster and Layton were agreeable; Dudek was adamantly opposed. Several other uncomfortable incidents involving Corman could be cited. In fact, Corman became such a bone of contention between Dudek and Layton that Souster feared for their friendship.18

     Meanwhile, Layton was invited to teach at Black Mountain College. (He did not go.) Creeley made him a contributing editor, along with Paul Blackburn, Kenneth Rexroth, and Charles Olson, of Black Mountain Review (1954-1957). And Creeley’s Divers Press brought out Layton’s In the Midst of My Fever (1954). Corman, despite his earlier reservations, published Layton’s “The Cold Green Element” in Origin (1st Series, 14, 1954), and made him guest-editor of a Canadian issue (Origin, 1st Series, 18, 1956).

     Dudek strongly resented Layton’s intimate connections with the American poets. As Davey puts it: “To Dudek, who not only deeply mistrusted Corman and resented his influence on Contact but also generally disliked the work of Origin poets such as Creeley and Olson, these friendships seemed clandestine and disloyal.”19 Given these insights, readers may draw their own conclusions as to how and why “Layton, Souster, and Dudek appeared side-by-side with Olson, Creeley, Corman and others of the Black Mountain group” in the pages of Contact and CIV/n.

     Norris has missed what, Dudek must surely agree, is the “real dramatic story” of these two magazines.   Neither Contact nor CIV/n would have much historical importance had not Souster, Dudek, and Layton later developed into three important, and very different poets. The “significance” of CIV/n, especially, lies not merely in its resistance to Northern Review (and to Contact) but also in the fact that it marked a decisive (and divisive) point in the careers of Dudek and Layton—a fact that (for those who are not wearing a patch over one eye) has had truly remarkable consequences for contemporary Canadian poetry.


  1. The title CIV/n was suggested by Dudek. It is Ezra Pound’s shorthand for ‘civilization,’in his phrase “CIV/n: not a one-man job.”[back]

  2. ’Social realism’ is a term critics have stumbled over for years. For an extended debate over its meaning, see the “Louis Dudek Issue” of It needs to be said (No. 4, Aut., 1974). The discussion is carried forward in No. 5 (n.d.), and in It needs to be said/the front, 2nd Series, No. 1 (n.d.) and No. 2 (Fall 1976). Those who commented on the discussion (besides the editors, Dudek, and Dorothy Livesay) include Milton Acorn and Doug Jones.[back]

  3. The term “Contact Poets” is somewhat misleading. It refers to their joint enterprise, Contact Press. However, the title of the first book published by that press is more expressive of the relationship of Dudek, Souster, and Layton. Cerberus (1952) is named after a three-headed dog whose heads face three quite different directions.[back]

  4. See, for example, Betty Sutherland’s drawing on p. 113: “The Cachelot sighted by The Flaming Terrapin”—a spoof of her brother’s interest in E.J. Pratt and Roy Campbell.  Another allusive piece is the article “Not My Kind of Poetry,” by Alex St. J. Swift (Louis Dudek’s pseudonym), which lampoons another of Sutherland’s favoured poets, Peter Viereck.[back]

  5. See: John Sutherland, “Brief to the Royal Commission on Natural Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences,” submitted by Northern Review and First Statement Press, as printed in The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada by Louis Dudek and Michael Gnarowski (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1967) pp. 66-78.[back]

  6. In addition to his Index to ClV/n, see especially, Contact 1952-1954: Notes on the History and Background of the Periodical and an Index (Delta Canada, Montreal, 1966), and Contact Press 1952-67: A Note on its Origins/A Check List of Titles (Montreal: Delta Canada, 1970). Gnarowski’s nativist orientation is evident in the several magazines and presses with which he has been involved.  He was co-founder and editor of the magazines Yes (1956-1970), Le Chien d’Or/The Golden Dog (1972-1974), and Canadian Poetry (1977- ). He was one of the partners, with Dudek, in Delta Canada Press (1965-71); and in 1971 he founded his own press, The Golden Dog. Since his move to Ottawa in the early 1970s, he has generated, or been closely associated with several other Ottawa-based presses, including Tecumseh Press which published Vanneste’s Thesis.[back]

  7. Preface” by Michael Gnarowski, in Louis Dudek: Selected Essays and Criticism (Ottawa: The Tecumseh Press Limited, 1978).[back]

  8. Tish” is, of course, an anagram for “shit.” Ironically Tish did indeed become, for many social realists, a four-letter word, which they flung around rather carelessly whenever they felt threatened.[back]

  9. In a later, fuller study Louis Dudek & Raymond Souster (Vancouver Douglas and McIntyre, 1980), Davey minimized Raymond Souster’s contribution to modernism but dealt at length on the seminal importance of Dudek’s work as poet, critic? and theoretician. In 1981, the fattest issue to date (319 pages) of Open Letter (Fourth Series, Nos.  8-9) was entirely devoted to Dudek.  In his “Introduction,” Davey wrote, “Through this collection we believe Dudek’s centrality to Canadian poetry will become indisputably apparent.”  The “we” includes George Bowering, Frank Davey, Steve McCaffery, and bp Nichol, all of whom, in preparation for the volume, interviewed Dudek “via an exchange of letters.”[back]

  10. Norris’ dissertation, written under Dudek’s direction at McGill University, was completed in 1981 will probably be published in the near future. In 1983-84 Norris was writer-in-residence at McGill.[back]

  11. This book, according to a note by the publisher, is based on the author’s thesis (M.A., McGill University, 1977).[back]

  12. According to Davey, “Souster rejected Dudek’s most extreme suggestions, such as his idea of one issue devoted entirely to an “Ezra Pound Comes North symposium.” Louis Dudek & Raymond Souster, p. 13.[back]

  13. See Michael Gnarowski, Contact 1952-1954, for a full discussion of this topic.[back]

  14. In “The Making of CIV/n,” reprinted in CIV/n: A Literary Magazine of the 1950s, p. 228, Dudek stated, “There was a tactful solicitude on the part of Layton and myself not to interfere with the editorial freedom of the actual editors.”[back]

  15. Specifically, the topic of Dudek’s letter is First Statement 1942-1945: An Assessment and An Index, by Neil Fisher (Ottawa: The Golden Dog Press, 1974).[back]

  16. Dudek’s thesis was later published as a book Literature and the Press: A History of Printing, Printed Media, and Their Relation to Literature (Toronto: Ryerson/Contact Press, 1960).[back]

  17. A full understanding of their disagreements—which culminated, in the late 1950s, in a total breakdown of their relationship—must await the publication of their correspondence, their respective memoirs, and full-scale biographies. Layton, in his essay “Recalling the 50s,” in CIV/n: A Literary Magazine of the 50s, pp. 248-251, throws no light on this conflict.  In fact, he does not even mention CIV/n specifically. In a magnanimous flourish that covers the Montreal poetry scene in general, he writes, “Sure there were factions and there was a good deal of infighting and backbiting but what really stands out my mind was [sic] the homage that was instantly paid to a good poem and the individual who had written it.”[back]

  18. Letter from Souster to Layton, February 6, 1954; ms. in the collection of Concordia[back]

  19. Davey, Louis Dudek & Raymond Souster, p. 25.[back]

Wynne Francis