Four of the Former Preview Editors:
A Discussion

F.R. Scott:  Here are four of the former Preview Editors, sitting in my home on Clarke Avenue, and we are having a kind of reunion.   We are thinking back to the founding of Preview, and we will reminisce a little about what we remember of those great days.
     I have here Bruce Ruddick. Say a few words, Bruce, so your voice comes in, my boy.

Bruce Ruddick:  Hi, both of you!

F.R. Scott:  And Neufville Shaw?

Neufville Shaw:  There was some Courvoisier here!

F.R. Scott:  And Margaret Surrey?  Make a little noise!

Margaret Surrey:  I shall speak in a minute.

Neufville Shaw:  I have a memory I have been saving up for this evening; I just remember really what started Preview, and it was a challenge from Patrick.  Patrick.  I don’t know, but I suppose all of us Montrealers had been challenged by the English; we had been told that we hadn’t got anything like the English tavern, hadn’t got anything like cheap ballet, cheap theatre, and Patrick was doing this to me one night, he was baiting me, up on Côte St. Luc Road, upstairs.  Well, he was doing this to me and he said “You know we wouldn’t be spending an evening just wasting our time about schoolmasters’ salaries and so forth, and the size of classes; we would be founding a magazine”.  I remember that.   He was right at the head of the stairs, and he had his black Homburg on, because at that time he had an image of himself as being an English Anthony Eden, or something.

Bruce Ruddick:  A banker!

F.R. Scott:  Or ex-president of the Oxford Union.

Neufville Shaw:  Yes — or a black Homburg anyway.  He had an image, and his image far transcended himself.  He said we would be founding a magazine, so naturally I rose to the bait, and said “Why don’t we?”  And he said “I know a guy”, and this was Frank.  I said I did not know Frank at that time; Frank was a person on platforms to me, and . . .

F.R. Scott:  Then this is your memory of how it all started?

Neufville Shaw:  Yes, and he said that he remembered him but was not quite sure that he had the courage to call him, but he did.

F.R. Scott:  Margaret, what is your first memory of Preview, and Patrick?

Margaret Surrey:  Well, I have to start with my memory of Patrick.  My memory of Patrick is that about November 1940 Philip and I were at one of Corinne Lyman’s Sunday afternoon tea parties, on Oxenden, and Phil came up to me at one point and said “There is a young man over there who knows W.H. Auden.”  W.H. Auden was to me at that time a great hero, and I said “Where? Who is he?”  There was Patrick looking very sleek and washed — a young bridegroom — and Peggy, who was Alice in Wonderland.  It turned out that Patrick didn’t exactly know W.H. Auden so well, but he had met him a few times and he had driven him home from a lecture at Columbia, and we met and took a great liking to each other at once.  They were living out in the most tiny little apartment on Shuter Street (you had to crouch down to get into the two little rooms), and we immediately invited them to tea.  We were living on St. Famille Street, so they came over to tea and Patrick brought some poems with him, and I liked them very much, and I read him a story of mine, which he said he liked very much, and that was November.  We saw them all through December, and then we went there for Christmas.  They had a Christmas tree, and Peggy and Patrick loved Christmas, and we said we hated Christmas.  It came to the spring and we moved from St. Famille Street to Lincoln and St. Matthew, and they moved to Dorchester Avenue and St. Matthew, and all these months we were visiting back and forth, and Patrick was reading his poems.  I kept saying from time to time, “You must meet Frank Scott, I know he would like you so much and you would be interested in him,” and finally, about June 1941, Patrick said in a passion one day, “You keep saying you must meet Frank Scott, but I never meet him, you never invite him; when am I going to meet him?”  So I said I would invite him next Sunday for tea.  I invited him the following Sunday and immediately Frank and Patrick took to each other, and it wasn’t very long after that — I don’t know who started the idea — Frank or Patrick or both —

Neufville Shaw:  He had met Frank at the time.

Margaret Surrey:  It was after Frank and Patrick met — I don’t know which one of them wanted to start a magazine.

Neufville Shaw:  He was not very sure of Frank.   It was one meeting.

F.R. Scott:  A forbidding one!

Margaret Surrey:  I know Frank invited him almost at once, because Frank found him most interesting.

Neufville Shaw:  It was after that that he called me.

Margaret Surrey:  So I think it was in the fall of 1941.

Neufville Shaw:  Yes.

F.R. Scott:  You Neufville, and Margaret were there automatically to start with, with Patrick.

Margaret Surrey:  You called the first meeting here.

Neufville Shaw:  Then you got me in, then we reached out and got Bruce.

Margaret Surrey:  And the very first meeting was here in this room, and you invited Bruce to come, Frank.

Neufville Shaw:  Right in this room.  I remember Bruce’s anxious stutter, when we were sitting here, and Frank went to the door, and Bruce said in the heartiest sort of way, “Hello,  Frank!

Margaret Surrey:  Well, I was fascinated at first by Bruce, because at the McGill Library almost every book I took out was marked on the card B. Ruddick, and I didn’t know if it was a man or woman, or who it was.  Every book I took B. Ruddick had just finished reading.  Finally I asked the Librarian who B. Ruddick was and she said a young student who was doing his M.A. in English Literature.

Neufville Shaw:  Under Files.

F.R. Scott:  Well, Bruce, what are your first memories?

Bruce Ruddick:  My first memory is a telephone call, and a very quiet voice said to me, “Are you B. Ruddick”.  It was Neufville.

Neufville Shaw:  Was it me, really?

Bruce Ruddick:  Yes, you had phoned me.  I had met Frank years before in the Canadian Action — we published a little card with ten things for Canada’s future.  When I took it home my father saw it and said “You are going to get arrested”.  It first called for a Canadian Governor-General.  By the way, of those ten things nine are law already.  The only tenth thing that isn’t is the Canadian national anthem.
     Anyway Neufville said “We are starting a poetry magazine”.  I had never met Neufville, but he said “Well, Pamela Steed knows you.”  I knew Pam Steed because she lived around the corner, and he said “We want to start a poetry magazine — will you come some time and bring some poetry?”  I had been publishing in the Forge magazine at McGill, and I asked Neufville, what did Pam say?  Neufville told me she said she knew a man who was writing poetry she didn’t understand at all,  and Neufville said “That’s the man for us!

Neufville Shaw:  And you were the man for us!

Bruce Ruddick:  Then I came here very anxious and I said “Hello, Frank”, and then you were all sitting around in a semi-circle, and in front of the fire was a little hassock, and you said immediately, not giving me a drink, or a chance to get my breath, “Read your poems”.

F.R. Scott:  That sounds very unlike me!

Bruce Ruddick:  I couldn’t.  I was very nervous, so I gave them to somebody else, and somebody else read them, at which point I was in.  And the next thing I can remember was licking stamps.

Neufville Shaw:  There was a great deal of licking stamps and folding papers.

Bruce Ruddick:  We did have rather a marvellous time, gathering all kinds of poems to be put together.  The first issue was rather easy.  We didn’t know who to send it to, but we thought of the faculties of various universities.

Neufville Shaw:  The circulation seldom went above 125.

Bruce Ruddick:  150 was the most we ever had, I still have fourteen of every issue.

Neufville Shaw:  Have you really?

F.R. Scott:  Interrupting this historical story — actually, Bruce, these things are so much sought after now I think you owe it to the libraries of the world to sort your things out, eh?

Bruce Ruddick:  But with a great deal of regret I will mail them up to someone — you will have to appoint a Committee.

F.R. Scott:  You mail them up to me, Mike Gnarowski is becoming the historian of all little mags of Canada.  He has got a huge grant from Canada Council.

Bruce Ruddick:  I have all the unsold copies.

F.R. Scott:  Mike is a charming fellow — he has been an editor of Yes magazine.  He is a Polish Canadian married to a charming French Canadian girl, and he worked up at Lakehead University, of all places — and he is now on the staff of Sir George Williams.  He is going to be in Montreal next year, and you will get to know him . . .

Bruce Ruddick:  Do you remember another thing we began with, by the way, when we thought of a little magazine in Canada?  We had two other magazines in mind — the Fortnightly Review, and the other was Alan Crawley with Contemporary Verse

Neufville Shaw:  There is another thing:   we mustn’t forget First Statement.

Bruce Ruddick:  I remember they came in here many years later.

Neufville Shaw:  I remember their entrance to this house.  You were shown to the living room and they were shown to the rear of the house — I don’t know whether you remember that — but they were shown to the dining room or somewhere, and they were hidden there.

Bruce Ruddick:  It was a masonic rite:  they had to kiss the goat.

F.R. Scott:  Just a minute.  One of the most mysterious parts of the great revival of poetry in the English language in Montreal in 1940, 1941, 1942, is the relationship between the First Statement group and Preview.

Neufville Shaw:  When did they come into being?

F.R. Scott:  My memory is that Patrick started with Preview, and John Sutherland had arrived in Montreal.  He heard about us, and he submitted a poem or poems to Patrick, and Patrick refused them.  John went off in a kind of huff, and decided he would have to have his own magazine.  Now this is my vague memory of what actually took place, so that things started after Preview —

Bruce Ruddick:  You are skipping at least a year and a half.

F.R. Scott:  Well here is the first list of published Editors, F.R. Scott, Margaret Day, Bruce Ruddick, Patrick Anderson and Neufville Shaw.

Bruce Ruddick:  P.K. Page came in an issue later.

F.R. Scott:  That’s true, and I think Patrick found P.K. Page by reading Contemporary Verse and finding a poem he liked.  And this girl turned up in Montreal.

Margaret Surrey:  Don’t you remember those parties — when that what’s his name, that man who threw all those parties, that Scotchman?

F.R. Scott:  That’s right, living in the Grosvenor Apartments.

Margaret Surrey:  Yes.

F.R. Scott:  Well look, P.K. Page appeared as Editor at No 2. She only missed No. 1. But Klein, I am sure, did not come in until a good deal later.

Neufville Shaw:  Probably not before we got our cover.   Klein came in when we were respectable.

Margaret Surrey:  That’s where Patrick met P.K. At Bill Fraser’s.

F.R. Scott:  Bill Fraser was a man who used to have many meetings he was also running the Forum Sunday evening lectures.

Margaret Surrey:  Patrick met P.K. at one of his parties.

Bruce Ruddick:  We were reading Cecil Day Lewis, Auden . . .

Neufville Shaw:  And worrying a little about Thomas.

F.R. Scott:  Could we just keep these voices one after the other.   When did we first really begin talking about Thomas, seriously, as an influence?   I thought Patrick had pretty
well —

Margaret Surrey:  I had the Thomas poems in 1940.

Neufville Shaw:  He was there, but he was very dormant.

Bruce Ruddick:  The influence was not, by the way, anything to do with these poets We lead them, but there was a kind of respect I felt at least.

F.R. Scott:  I can remember when we started the McGill Fortnightly, there was a feeling that all poetry was going to be totally renewed.   All the poetry of the past, particularly the Victorians, was over, and a great new era was dawning.  Modem poetry was there gaining influence.  This was 1925, 1926 and 1927; and Smith, A.J.M. Smith was the predominant influence then, and he was a specialist on Eliot and Yeats, but he was introducing Cummings and Pound and Frost and the great Americans of the time.  There was a sense that the whole of poetry was being reborn.  Now when I remember Preview, we felt that a lot of new poetry was being written but we didn’t have the same sense that everything was changing.

Bruce Ruddick:  Well, as far as the influences were concerned, I am sure that we all read them; they were immensely important in teaching us the style, or voice, a kind of poetic medium, but I don’t remember a thing about — in the early days of Preview — a thing about the idea that we were derivative, that we were influenced by anybody else.  The idea was to make a Canadian voice, and it was rather ridiculous and maybe a bit arrogant of us, but that is what made us survive.

Neufville Shaw:  I remember nothing of influences, but my feeling was that Patrick was England, and it was almost an anti-Colonial statement.  We were trying to rise and meet this.  Certainly I can’t say that we derived either from Auden or Cummings or the McGill Fortnightly.

Bruce Ruddick:  We have forgotten Eliot, you know.

Neufville Shaw:  Or Eliot.

Bruce Ruddick:  And Shapiro.

Margaret Surrey:  In my memory anyhow we weren’t deriving from any one.  We were just trying to make something — to write.   I wasn’t a poet at all like the rest of you and my feeling was, when first Patrick came — he was a very exciting sort of person with a new sort of poetry which I suppose was very much influenced by Thomas.  I was excited about starting a magazine and writing stories and being published in the magazine.

F.R. Scott:  Going to the actual occasions when we met, as a group of editors, particularly in that fantastic establishment that Patrick had off Dorchester Street — my memory there is sitting in that incredible little back room, and then we all read poems we had written in turn, starting generally on Patrick’s left and round about.  I will never forget on one occasion (I think it was after Christmas holidays), we hadn’t met for some time and we came back and Patrick sat there as Chairman, with someone on his left.  We all read around one or two poems each, then I said to Patrick “Have you got any poems to read?”  He said “Yes, I have twenty-four”.

Bruce Ruddick:  He also had something else:   he used to make his own cigarettes.  Do you remember?  He would sit there before he read a poem, he would sit and wind his cigarettes out.  I remember Frank, Neufville, who used to produce three poems.  I always used to reach in a pocket and pick up a bit of tissue paper or something else.  I always wrote my poems in little snatches; when surgery lectures got boring, I used to write them down.  But I wanted to say something totally different about the beginning of Preview.

Margaret Surrey:  You used to call Patrick old bean.  You used to say “How are you, old bean?”

Bruce Ruddick:  Yes, I used to call him old bean.   I said “Hello, Colonel” and he almost killed me, I remember.  But the thing I felt most personally and importantly was not the derivative aspect of it at all.  While I had been at McGill and had been writing on the Forge I had known Frank’s Fortnightly Review and A.J.M. Smith and English poets.  But it was a separate identity that was quite marvellous, and when I was in Medical school I used to love to come to the meetings of Preview. Everyone was writing their own poetry, trying their own things — if you could trace the sources, but it was very very exciting.  It was what I might call a pre-psycho-analytic psychotherapy:   the kind of thing that makes people healthy, and if they don’t get it, they go to analysts.

F.R. Scott:  Neufville?

Neufville Shaw:  I really don’t know what to say, I still can’t get over the idea of Patrick’s challenge:  Patrick representing a country where all this was naturally important and we living in a country where it seemed all this was unnatural and unimportant.  Somehow or other I have a feeling that most of us wrote verse and short stories to some extent to establish the Canadian idea (mortgages and meeting bills and so on was somehow unimportant), that we were meeting Patrick in a way.

Bruce Ruddick:  Yes he was tremendous.

Neufville Shaw:  Yes, Patrick was very important.   I remember, Frank, your sending the first few copies to A.J.M. Smith for his blessing.  Do you remember that?  And we in due course received the blessing.   This didn’t matter too much — Smith’s blessing to my mind did not matter too much — it was participating in the excitement that Patrick generated in me.

F.R. Scott:  What I think we are all saying is that it was a group writing original verse, a group aware of verse being written round about, but certainly not just being derivative (though there were echoes of various people), and in that sense it was a more mature group than the group that started the McGill Fortnightly, which was after all undergraduate, though freeing itself from old traditional forms of verse.  But to me there was that excitement in the Preview group — this marvellous kind of feeling that it really was terribly important — tremendous excitement and great fun, lots of good times and a sense of importance.  I hadn’t had anything like it since the Fortnightly days.  Now, I want to bring the conversation back to our relationship with the First Statement group which developed alongside; there was a kind of rivalry and yet respect.

Bruce Ruddick:  I would like to go back to mention Patrick, and tell you what I really think to me was the most important.   Frank was a lawyer, Mark was a school teacher, Neufville was a school teacher, I was a medical student, but Patrick was a poet.  All day long.  He used to be very angry at me if I did not write a poem.  He excoriated me.  He made me feel guilty.  When I would come and say I haven’t got any thing this month, he would say “God damn it you are a poet” — or something like that in his own vernacular.  He had this influence — that from the first time that I can remember, he was the professional, and his professionalism shamed us and encouraged us at the same time.  Patrick, for all his shortcomings, was at least professional, and he stimulated us to do what we had to do.  That’s the thing I remember most impressively.  Though I had my personal difficulties with this man — not difficulties, feelings — his presence as a poet, a man whose life was dedicated to poetry — that is all he wanted to do — teaching school was a way of earning a living — that was something I had never met in this country before, and it was the most profound thing I remember of the early days of Preview.

F.R. Scott:  Do you agree with that, Neufville?

Neufville Shaw:  Oh, yes, very much so, very very much so.

Margaret Surrey:  Patrick could not stand a day in which he hadn’t written three or four hours of poetry.  If he hadn’t done that he was miserable.  But Patrick left Canada.  I wouldn’t look him up in England. Why wouldn’t I look him up?

Bruce Ruddick:  He was the conscience of our poetry, and the conscience of our working at poetry.

Neufville Shaw:  There was a rumour about Patrick’s murder.   Had you heard it?  So Mary rang up Patrick about the winter before last to ask him if he had been murdered, and Patrick denied it.

Bruce Ruddick:  No!  He denied it?

Neufville Shaw:  He also said “When you see Neufville, tell him how angry I am with him — he has been in England several times and has never called me up, and I feel very angry and annoyed with him.”  Subsequent to this I did call him up.

Margaret Surrey:  Well, Mary was just saying to me that she was struck listening to us talk that it was Patrick, Patrick, Patrick.   But I said that you really can’t understand how at the very beginning Patrick was a sort of dynamo among us all.  As Bruce says, he was a professional poet, and not only that, we were all very young — this was 25 years ago — we were all very young and it isn’t the same thing at all.  And came the time later when I said to Patrick — your poems are very beautiful — but they are nothing but words — where are the ideas behind your poems, where is your point of view — where is your philosophy, and he began to say to me “Margaret says that I have to have a point of view — Margaret says I have to have a point of view.”  But he did have to have a point of view, and he didn’t have a point of view, and that is why he didn’t develop further as a poet.

Neufville Shaw:  Could I put a question to all of you, and that is, later P.K. came and later Abe (Klein) came, both good poets (I think anyway), but why, why is it still Patrick, why does Patrick persist through out?

Bruce Ruddick:  I would like to get back to the Patrick thing.  When I was a young runner in the McGill University Library, I was very encouraged by Harold Files.  He was the most marvellous teacher I ever had.

F.R. Scott:  A great man.

Bruce Ruddick:  Great man.  I wrote my poetry, it was in this tiny thing.  And I heard that Langston Hughes was coming to Ogilvy’s, and I would go and see Langston Hughes — I didn’t know any poets — and then I would read Langston Hughes’ poetry and say, well, he was not for me.  And one night I met Louis McNeice — he stole my girl from me — he literally did — and he said to me “A poet is a poet”.  Louis McNeice was the first professional poet I had ever met. . . . This was 1939, he came over here and gave a series of lectures. Now after that . . . Louis McNeice, by the way, impelled me to think that poetry was a serious concern — when I was in the University, poetry was something that I adored and would work at, but as a serious concern it never impressed me.  But to meet a professional poet, . . . . Patrick, despite all his shortcomings was a professional, and that is really what one most profoundly needs in these burgeoning days that you begin to organize.

Neufville Shaw:  And in a City like Manchester, eh?

Bruce Ruddick:  Yeh — and that’s Montreal —

Neufville Shaw:  Yeh — Montreal’s Manchester.

Margaret Surrey:  I don’t agree.

F.R. Scott:  I must say I think, from the point of view of new poetry and excitement in it, I think P.K. Page contributed a great deal; I think everything she wrote at that time and that we heard she wrote, including some of her short stories, was very exciting.  It is true Patrick dominated the situation; he had started it.  But I would have thought that she brought an influence of considerable importance and and made it more than just a Patrick show.  Klein came in so much later (and Klein by this time was pretty well established) that I didn’t feel he added a great deal to the Preview group, except that every now and then, being a personality here, he gave us some good poetry and so on.  But the essential thing that made Preview was undoubtedly Patrick.

Bruce Ruddick:  Well, you mentioned that P.K. Page came in — she was a very quiet unassuming person, who wrote her poetry which we all admired, but she didn’t have a messianic sense.  We followed a messiah, a man who wanted to make poetry and make. . .well he caught on with all of us who had unattached attitudes.  We suddenly found something around which we could get together — the Preview Group — and Patrick did, as the messiah, bring us. . . .  Although I think P.K. was a better poet, I think Patrick had the attitude.  He was a professional.

Neufville Shaw:  I think Irving Layton was a professional too.

F.R. Scott:  Irving was not in the group.

Neufville Shaw:  Why wasn’t Irving.  Why?

Bruce Ruddick:  He wasn’t writing then.

Neufville Shaw:  But remember the First Statement people were here, in this house.  They came here once, and they were shown into another room; they were put below the salt as it were, and we were like oil and vinegar.  One layer sat on top of the other.

Bruce Ruddick:  Well, they were quite hostile to us.

Neufville Shaw:  And remember when Preview was dying we tried, in a sense, to keep it going by mating with First Statement, and we became Northern Review.

F.R. Scott:  And shortly broke up.

Neufville Shaw:  It didn’t last more than a few months.  But among the First Statement bunch there was Irving Layton, and he was a very good poet, in Canadian terms.

F.R. Scott:  Well, the present historian of this period is Wynne Francis, who teaches Canadian poetry —

Bruce Ruddick:  Well, First Statement and Preview were antagonistic.  The antagonism between First Statement and Preview did not begin the first day.  Preview began by itself, and later First Statement

Margaret Surrey:  But why, Bruce, why?

Neufville Shaw:  Basically because John Sutherland, and I have a great deal of respect for John (if anyone was going to give an O.B.E. away I would give one to John), basically, John wanted to run his own particular camp, his own show.  John wanted to run it, and in Preview, although we owed a great deal to Patrick, I don’t think we were a runnable group.

Bruce Ruddick:  No, we weren’t.

Margaret Surrey:  It wasn’t just a one man show.

Bruce Ruddick:  All I was thinking about Patrick was that he gave that little catalytic action.  As a professional poet he did not dominate anybody’s writing.

F.R. Scott:  None of us is derivative of Patrick at all.  None of us wrote like Patrick.

Bruce Ruddick:  Nobody of the Preview group had anything to do with Patrick, but as a professional he was encouraging to us.

F.R. Scott:  One thing he did, though, was to introduce the Dylan Thomas idiom in his own verse, but not in anybody’s else’s.

Bruce Ruddick:  No, nobody else wrote Dylan Thomas or Auden . . . some bad Eliot.

Neufville Shaw:  I think Thomas was in everything that Preview wrote.

Bruce Ruddick:  Thomas was not in everything we wrote at all.

Neufville Shaw:  In any case, John Sutherland was a sort of professor of First Statement. The thing that always astonished me about First Statement was that John Sutherland was able to run Irving.

F.R. Scott:  Don’t forget Irving was marrying his sister.

Neufville Shaw:  No, I won’t forget that.  (Laughter)

F.R. Scott:  It is rather astonishing that at the same time in Montreal there should be these two groups, each with its own magazine.   There was unquestionably a kind of rivalry between them, and yet I don’t think on Preview we worried too much about what they were writing in First Statement. We didn’t care at all, we were interested mildly.

Neufville Shaw:  I think perhaps they did.

Bruce Ruddick:  It was an adolescent thing because they were very angry at us, and we rather looked down on them.  We had staked our claims two years before and we had a circulation of 125.  That’s rather majestic in this country, and they had one of 60.

Neufville Shaw:  The thing that amazes me (you talk about oil floating on water) Preview floating on First Statement. But a more amazing quotation is that Preview and First Statement were English verse completely ignorant of French-Canadian verse.

F.R. Scott:  No, but at that time we didn’t think there was a single thing going on in French Canada in the way of poetry or literature that interested us.  We were totally ignorant and not trying to find out.

Neufville Shaw:  To an outsider, isn’t that astonishing?

F.R. Scott:  Yes, because Saint-Denys-Garneau had already written all this verse.  What is more, Saint-Denys-Garneau was in this room here, and I just met him once only; he lived down the street.

Neufville Shaw:  Yes, and I read his verse.

F.R. Scott:  Anne Hébert was writing; her first book was published, I think, in 1942 — the time we started — but it didn’t impinge upon us at all.  We were an English-speaking group entirely cut off.

Neufville Shaw:  We didn’t think twice about it.   We thought this was natural.

Bruce Ruddick:  There was no concept at all that there was French verse that meant anything.  We didn’t read it.

Neufville Shaw:  No, no, it was Westmount verse in a way.   Most of our meeting was done in Westmount, right in this room.

Bruce Ruddick:  We used to meet in Westmount and I used to write about Point St. Charles.

F.R. Scott:  This is Wynne Francis’ thesis, that of these two warring groups the First Statement group were down in the real part of Montreal, Stanley Street, where terrible things happened, and where if you rang the right doorbells you could get anything you wanted twenty-four hours a day, and she contrasted this with the Westmount type, the grand Preview.  Now this is a little bit funny.

Bruce Ruddick:  I lived two blocks from Stanley Street all my life.

Neufville Shaw:  It is fancy.

Bruce Ruddick:  As a matter of fact the most illuminating social life I ever had came because Preview introduced me through you people to the Painters whom I had never met, and we all met on St. Famille Street.  I have never forgotten how the poetic group liberated you.  But I want to say something about when our first issue came out and I was given the marvellous job of taking care of the finances — all $33 of them — and the most marvellous thing that happened was that after our first issue was sent out to 100 or 150 people, the letters we got back of enthusiasm were so encouraging.  People wrote from all sorts of places, very encouraging, very sweet letters.

Neufville Shaw:  What I would like to get on the tape and solidify is this:  that we got expressions of encouragement from Michigan and elsewhere in the States — that’s a loaded statement — but McGill, despite the fact that it had a poetry room — remember that Frank? — it had a poetry room, and it subscribed to mimeograph verse from England, but it would not buy a subscription to Preview.

Bruce Ruddick:  That’s true.  But it was far too expensive at $1.00 per year.

Neufville Shaw:  This perhaps justifies the discrimination.

F.R. Scott:  Don’t forget the reason we chose the name Preview was not that we really thought that we were writing for ourselves and merely mimeographing material to have a better look at it.  I think the first sentence of the first Editorial was “This is not a magazine”.  We really wanted to be a writing group.

Bruce Ruddick:  Right.

F.R. Scott:  And we didn’t care really how many subscribers we had.

Neufville Shaw:  That’s rather an ideal statement, really.  I do think McGill could have done better by us.

Bruce Ruddick:  Everybody could have.  But as Frank says, what we wanted to do was to get a magazine together and to mimeograph it and send it out, not with too much ambition but just to write; not to eat, but for love.

F.R. Scott:  And to see what we were writing in a second stage of presentation.

Neufville Shaw:  We sent it out for love but we hoped to be loved.  McGill didn’t love us.

Bruce Ruddick:  McGill wasn’t interested, but we weren’t writing for McGill anyway.  We wrote for other things.  I remember we sent away to a certain radio critic — Phelps was his name, Arthur Phelps and then suddenly Arthur Phelps writes a long letter.  He wanted to meet some of us.   When you wrote something it was rather nice to have someone who wanted to meet you — it gave you an identity, and the identity of the poet in Canada had never been defined before.

Bruce Ruddick:  Basically that is what one was hoping McGill would do, but McGill didn’t do it.

F.R. Scott:  Don’t forget at this time — Nineteen forty-one, two, three, four and five — because of the War, or whatever it was, there was a great revival of interest in all the arts in Canada.  Painting was getting going and it was felt that art helped the war effort.

Bruce Ruddick:  There was a ballet school.

F.R. Scott:  The federation of Canadian artists got established, and it was an upsurge — a release of some kind of energy which came out in the poetry way as it did in other fields.

Bruce Ruddick:  It was a marvellous time is all I can say.

Neufville Shaw:  But mainly it was just youth, eh?

Bruce Ruddick:  Honest to God, it wasn’t youth, it was something else.  I hate the term respectability, but at least authenticity.   People would say, “You write", and when you wrote you were no longer writing in a school magazine or the Fortnightly Review or the Forge magazine, or a political thing, but you could send this small thing out and people all over the country — all hundred of them — would respond.  Now to have 100 people respond, you know  —

F.R. Scott:  Well we never had 100 respond, now come on Bruce.

Bruce Ruddick:  They bought and renewed their subscriptions.

F.R. Scott:  The first beginnings were in the twenties with the McGill Fortnightly and Canadian Mercury.  During the 1930s there was a lull and then out came New Provinces, a sort of summing up of the first efforts.  The Canadian Forum was a kind of continuing thing, more or less useful all the way through.  But in the ’forties there begun a much larger upsurge and this resulted in the first considerable publication of books of verse.  I mean, Smith’s book came out in 1943, P.K. Page came out, Patrick Anderson came out, I came out.  Other people began to produce books of poetry.  Nowadays there are some critics who think that all modern poetry in English began in the 1940s.

Neufville Shaw:  In Montreal.

F.R. Scott:  Yes, just because the books were published in the 1940s, whereas actually there was quite a history behind that, and Preview brought together the most important influences and groups writing in Montreal.

Neufville Shaw:  There was nothing else in Canada at the time, was there?

Bruce Ruddick:  Yes, there was, there was Contemporary Verse in Vancouver and that is all.

F.R. Scott:  Nothing, I think, in Toronto. Preview had published at least three numbers before First Statement appeared.

Bruce Ruddick:  It was a long time before we were appreciated.

F.R. Scott:  Accepted.

Bruce Ruddick:  Accepted, if you like, but at least there were people willing.  A small audience was infinitely better than trying to read to your Mother-in-law, you know.

F.R. Scott:  I never tried that, Bruce!

Neufville Shaw:  I never worried about my Mother-in-law.

Bruce Ruddick:  My Mother-in-law always asks me why I end up sadly?  But there was something very strange that Patrick had done to give a sense of professionalism.  But I want to come back to something else.   The thing we have forgotten was we had thought although Patrick was English that we would write a Canadian poetry.  We had this nationalistic thing, I am afraid.

F.R. Scott:  What’s your memory, Bruce, about the way we discussed whether there was a Canadian poetry, or just poetry in Canada?

Bruce Ruddick:  Well, I am afraid that, tragically, we wanted to be Canadian poets in the sense that we felt this strange division between the great English poets and the American poets and we tried, derivatively sometimes, to imitate them.  We tried to invent our own voice which was a rather foolish idea.  But very frequently the Preview group was referred to as Canadian poets instead of poets, and there was still in this country the saying that this was a Canadian painter, a Canadian something.  There was a parochial sense, and we were fighting it, but we were involved in it.  We thought we could invent a Canadian language, a Canadian. . . .

Neufville Shaw:  We tried to.  But as I remember the origin of Preview Patrick challenged me.  I don’t mean in the sense that that was the only origin of Preview. But I think Patrick’s challenge, in a sense, was a challenge to all the Canadian members of Preview to establish ourselves, and in that sense we were derivitive, because Patrick was Europe, or he was London — anyway he was the other side.  We tried to meet him, whether we meant it or not, I don’t know, but we were derivative.

Bruce Ruddick:  Now, speaking of this ridiculous term called “feedback” that you hear all day long. . . .  All of us, by the way, used to come to meetings, used to say, “My God there is a marvellous poem by an Englishman or Karl Shapiro.”  Shapiro’s poetry, for instance, which was known to us, we brought in whenever we read poetry.  It was not other Canadians.  It was the poetry of other countries in the same language, and we were very influenced and stimulated by it.

F.R. Scott:  I remember vividly that what we discussed was the nature of Canadian poetry.  And one thing we all absolutely agreed:   a poem was not Canadian because it talked about moose, or about ice, or about snow, or a mountain, or something or other.  Although, as a matter of fact, in that sense I think Patrick has written some of the most Canadian poetry.  He is the only poet who has really written about snow with a real feeling for snow — but a poetic feeling.  It had nothing to do with Canada.  It might have been snow anywhere.   It didn’t have to be in Canada.  I am sure we all agreed that the established labels supposed to represent Canada had nothing to do with Canadian poetry; but we also, I remember, agreed that a poet writes out of a geographic milieu and a social milieu, and this is Canada, and therefore something will come out that speaks of the place he is in.

Bruce Ruddick:  Did you know we had an issue of the magazine where we tried to write about specifically personal things?  Do you remember that?

F.R. Scott:  No.

Bruce Ruddick:  Well there were little descriptions of personal experiences, and there was a very bad vignette I gave about a prostitute in a bus, do you remember?  We tried to invent a language, and that was terrible!

Neufville Shaw:  What’s the name of that fancy photographer?  Roloph Beny?  Are his photographs of Canada going to be Canada?   They are going to be Vogue.  They aren’t going to be Canada.

Bruce Ruddick:  Well we did have a tremendous difficulty at the time.  First of all, we were establishing a poetry magazine.   Second of all, by the way, we were not free from the Canadian problem of separating Canada from Britain and America, trying to become a nation, which was ridiculous and marvellous!  We thought we were very much involved with this thing.  Although we did not want to do Tom Thomson poems, we always thought we might be able to invent, or come to, or discover, a kind of Canadian poetry.  Now the trouble was when we talked about it as Canadian poetry it was parochial (instead of English poetry, meaning poetry in the English language).  But we did have this feeling very profoundly in those early days.

F.R. Scott:  But I am very firmly convinced we wanted to get away from the easy marks of Canadian poetry, which you could find in previous Canadian poems, and that we were entering into what I think A.J.M. Smith called the cosmopolitan, the universal.  We were a part of the total western world, writing in the English language.  We wrote from Canada, sure, but we were almost on the same level as anybody writing from anywhere else, and we wanted to judge ourselves in that universal aspect.

Neufville Shaw:  That was our hope, but whether, basically, we were, was another thing.

Bruce Ruddick:  I come back to that “feedback” idea, for instance.  We always brought in beautiful English poetry, beautiful American poetry . . . stimulating . . . best . . . and when we sat around we said “Did you read this book, or that book, or that poem?”  For instance, W.R. Rogers, I remember, came in.  God! were we excited.  But he was an English poet.

Neufville Shaw:  Irish.

Bruce Ruddick:  And we were still, in this sense, not being fed by our own history.  We didn’t have a history in poetry to go back to.

Neufville Shaw:  No, we dont.

Bruce Ruddick:  And this is the thing that I thought we were really struggling with.

Neufville Shaw:  We havent.

Bruce Ruddick:  We haven’t, no.  Because none of us really had great admiration for previous Canadian poetry.  Oh God, Bliss Carman was good . . . goodness gracious!

F.R. Scott:  We never mentioned a single one of the so-called classical Canadian poets, not once.

Bruce Ruddick:  Not one, not a one ever gave us any stimulus.

F.R. Scott:  Smith hadn’t produced his Book of Canadian Verse yet.

Bruce Ruddick:  We didn’t come out of our evenings for instance, excited by “Have you read the old, 1870 Canadian . . .”

F.R. Scott:  Or “The Wreck of the Julie Plante.”

Neufville Shaw:  How about Lampman?

F.R. Scott:  No, Lampman didn’t count at all, at that time.

Bruce Ruddick:  Not a bit.  No Canadian poet meant a damned thing to us.  None of them ever moved us.  But British and American poets. . . .

Neufville Shaw:  Really the basic thing about Canadian poets for us, I think, is that they didn’t even move us to contempt.

Bruce Ruddick:  Right.

F.R. Scott:  They didn’t move us, period.

Neufville Shaw:  No, but there are the two types of movement, and writers like Lampman or. . . .

F.R. Scott:  There’s injection and excretion.

Neufville Shaw: Or Carman. . . .   No.  But we were not even angry with them.  Now, if we tended to get angry, we tended to get angry with, say, someone like Tennyson.

Bruce Ruddick:  You’re quite right.  Not one of us really was angry or involved with previous Canadian poetry, it is a striking thing.  But we tried to invent something — we didn’t succeed — but we really tried in some way, and still, not that we were derivative.

F.R. Scott:  But still, don’t forget, we were awfully glad when Klein joined us, because we knew Klein had written some very good verse.

Bruce Ruddick:  That’s right.

F.R. Scott:  And we were glad that Smith joined us, for the same reason.  We were beginning to get a body of Canadian verse which we recognized.

Neufville Shaw:  Smith didn’t join us; he patted our head.

Bruce Ruddick:  He disjoined us.  That was a very funny thing.  We were so peripherally concerned with the problems of Canada, and in our personal way with the problems of poetry.  Patrick dealt with the problems of poetry, and the problems of Canada were political.  But we never, never went back and felt, “My God!

F.R. Scott:  Yet Patrick, who had this sort of universal approach wrote poems set in Canada — the beautiful skiers, and all about the milk bottle freezing and the ice coming up and pushing up the little cap on the top — and he had a keen eye about what was around him here, which was Canadian.

Bruce Ruddick:  He infuriated me.  He made poetry of things I took for granted.

Neufville Shaw:  Yes.

Bruce Ruddick:  I used to be enraged.  He taught me to look at things I never saw till he came with a fresh eye.  When you say the ‘moose culture’ — we didn’t have this rather settled idea of what was the Canadian symbol.

F.R. Scott:  No, but I think Patrick helped us to free ourselves.  We were getting free anyway from a notion that we had to be something which was identifiable, easily, as being written round Canada.

Neufville Shaw:  Right.

F.R. Scott:  Whereas, actually, we wanted to write a poem which could be read in English in the United States, in fact anywhere the English language is read, and that it would be read as a poem first, and not first from where it came.

Neufville Shaw:  Does this matter?  I am just thinking now in terms of Canada in 1966: the successful Canadians are French Canadians, and they have a ‘moose’ touch.

F.R. Scott:  They are the most intensely, in a sense, nationalist in the way they write poetry.  They write from their own culture.

Neufville Shaw:  So they have a ‘moose culture’.

F.R. Scott:  Yes, that’s quite true.  We didn’t believe in their kind of moose.

Bruce Ruddick:  I believed in the moose, but I thought it was universal.

Neufville Shaw:  It might have been better for us if we had believed in the moose.

Bruce Ruddick:  You know the lovely thing?   The moose when it was first met was called “l’original” — it means original — and we were always looking for the original in our work.

Neufville Shaw:  “L’Original” does not mean original!

F.R. Scott:  I am going to ask Neville to open this discussion we are having about how we and the Preview group felt about Canada and its poetry, and how this contrasts with what we now know about French Canadian poetry developing contemporaneously with us, but about which we knew nothing?

Neufville Shaw:  It seems to me, basically, that French Canadian poetry can only be French Canadian, while English Canadian poetry can only be un-Canadian.  The only thing we were interested in, basically — and Patrick really meant this to us — was in establishing ourselves in international terms.

Bruce Ruddick:  By the way, you are absolutely right, because we used to get ourselves in a titillation of excitement when somebody wrote from England that they had read us, or an American journal had accepted . . . this was better than being a free Governor-General.

Neufville Shaw:  What was our magazine?  Our chief, our capital magazine was Horizon, wasn’t it?

Margaret Surrey:  Yes, Horizon.

Neufville Shaw:  That was the thing that mattered.

F.R. Scott:  On this point that we had to be un-Canadian in the sense that we had to clear away . . .

Neufville Shaw:  Not anti-Canadian.

F.R. Scott:  Not anti, un-Canadian. . . . We were clearing away what we considered to be early trappings and early worn out symbols of something Canadian.  We measured ourselves against the general content of English poetry written in the United States and Canada, where the best poetry was being written, and we tried to be in that general stream.  And so, we did not, therefore, in a sense turn our backs on anything specifically Canadian, though if we wrote a poem good enough to be read anywhere, it didn’t matter at all if it tallied Canadian subject matter.   That was irrelevant.  But at the same time the French Canadian poets were intensely concerned with their own position, their own plight, their own miseries, their own hopes, and they had within themselves what they needed to be intensely involved in writing.  And I don’t think at that time they were drawing so much from contemporary French and American poets, though this may be a dangerous statement.

Bruce Ruddick:  Do you remember that we did once try to suggest that we were at one time a bridge, that we were both English and American, and perhaps we could write a poetry. . . . We did suggest at some ridiculous moment that this was some kind of thing between England and America, and we, who had our roots as English in the two cultures, might be a synthetic function.  Nothing came of it.

F.R. Scott:  It is rather a bold thought.

Bruce Ruddick:  Well, we had bold thoughts.

Neufville Shaw:  Patrick said something about this.  He said Canadian poets are always interested in the grand cause.  They are interested in . . . well at that time it would be Spain, eh?  Franco, and the privileged vs. the unprivileged . . . while the English poet might be interested in the way a heron takes off and flies into a sunset.  This was Patrick.

F.R. Scott:  Also Dylan Thomas.

Bruce Ruddick:  We were so terribly serious.

Neufville Shaw:  Yes, we were abstract.

Bruce Ruddick:  Terribly serious.  That’s true.

Neufville Shaw:  In a way the English poet was very particular.

Bruce Ruddick:  By the way that was a marvellous thing in Preview.  It was a long time before we began to write formal poetry.  It was free poetry.

Neufville Shaw:  You became a member because Pam said you wrote free verse, verse that didn’t rhyme.

Bruce Ruddick:  That’s right, and the old classic modes were discarded by us.  Then, finally, when we learned our craft better, we began to try and write villanelles.

F.R. Scott:  Well, you might find it difficult to believe that, in the old McGill Fortnightly days, not to use a perfect rhyme, but to use a half rhyme, was considered a very great advance.  Wilfrid Owen introduced us to the half rhyme idea, and he was an influence at that time.  The Imagists were an influence.  All that had totally disappeared by the time of Preview.   It was a free, open form of verse.

Bruce Ruddick:  There was not one poem in the classic mode at all.

Margaret Surrey:  What about “Summer’s Joe?”  What would you call that?  Don’t you think it’s the best thing Patrick ever wrote?

Bruce Ruddick:  “Summer’s Joe?”  It’s free association.

F.R. Scott:  It wasn’t quite true that we had no formal verse, because I wrote my little thing on R.B. Bennett, which was entirely rhymed couplets; but this was looked upon a bit askance by Preview and they only let it in out of general good will.

Bruce Ruddick:  It was pressure?

Neufville Shaw:  Abe wrote formal a bit, and Patrick wrote formal a bit, and Frank wrote formal a bit, but I don’t think you or Pat did.

Bruce Ruddick:  P.K.?  No.  It was one of those things, though, that you did.  The idea of writing formal poetry was not a concern of the Preview group.  When a formal poem came, one said “Well, it’s Frank’s and its good, or. . . .”

Margaret Surrey:  Still, only the people who were interested in formal verse were ones who persisted.  Now that Preview is dead. . . .

Bruce Ruddick:  That’s quite true.

Neufville Shaw:  You and I and Pat are dead as poets. . . .

Bruce Ruddick:  It was an expression of a craft.

F.R. Scott:  Do you think I should go upstairs and read some of this secret poetry Patrick left behind twenty years ago?

Bruce Ruddick:  You shouldn’t go upstairs — you should go upstairs and come down!

F.R. Scott:  What do you remember about the way we handed alcohol at our meetings of Preview? (Laughter)

Bruce Ruddick:  The most marvellous thing I remember is that we had parties, we used to do jokes, imitations, act, turn somersaults, have the mast marvellous times, and, as I look back now, we never had a drink.  Not one drink.  Not a damned bit of alcohol all during those war years.  And people said it was because we could not get it.  It is not true.  I was in medical school, I could get plenty of alcohol, and we drank.  But the poets and writers — we never drank a thing.

F.R. Scott:  Well, Patrick used to drink interminable cups of tea, and when the teapot was empty we would turn around to his wife and say “Peggy, the teapot’s empty!” and she would have to go and fill it.   But I remember we each brought one bottle of beer at the most, and that’s what we had.  So we went through all this genuine poetic excitement and mutual stimulation, and we didn’t require anything the way of alcohol at all.

Bruce Ruddick:  Astonishing!  Because the rest of the world was drinking itself happy! — People said that during the war you didn’t get it.  I was at that time an intern, and I used to get 4 oz. per person per ward.  And I could get all kinds of it. — Now, the doctors drank, I remember.   I never, by the way, recall an interne’s party when there wasn’t plenty of liquor.   Not that we got drunk.  But I think back to those Preview days of absolute hilarity — there was no alcohol at all.  None.

Margaret Surrey:  You couldn’t get beer.  I had to hunt for a bottle for my charwoman and my cleaning man.

Bruce Ruddick:  I hunted . . . I owned a man:   he had an ulcer and I used to give him his anti-acid, and he sold me his beer.

Margaret Surrey:  Beer was scarce, and we couldn’t afford hard liquor.

F.R. Scott:  Let us sit down and tell sad stories of the death of Preview.  Why did it die, Bruce?

Bruce Ruddick:  I think you killed it.   Frank used to predict that everything would die soon.  We were rather alarmed; we did not want to upset Frank by continuing to live.  You said, “It’s got to end, it’s got to end”, because you wanted the complete files!  I will tell you why I think it died. Patrick went away, . . . P.K. Page too, and I went off in the army, and where did Neville go?

Neufville Shaw:  Yes, and Margaret. . . .

Bruce Ruddick:  Frank was very busy building new worlds.  And I was in Camp Borden, I remember, feeling very depressed trying to psychoanalyse one of my chief administrative officers — a totally ridiculous attempt on my part — and nothing was happening.  I was very sad and quite depressed being in the army away there.  I was getting fat on beer and thin on. . . .

Neufville Shaw:  What about Abe?

Bruce Ruddick:  Abe had very little to do with it.  Now, Abe didn’t wander away.  He was a comet.  He just came and streaked his tail through us and disappeared again.  Abe never was really dedicated to it. Abe never had any profound identification with the thing.  He came as a friend, and he felt he was just passing his little showers of comet sparks.  And, by the way, when I came back and ’phoned Abe (when I got married to Dorothy) I asked him:   “I want to talk to you”. — He said, “What do you want to talk about?”  I said “Joyce”.  He said, “I am not interested in Joyce any more”.  That was the end.  Abe disappeared.  P.K. went away.

Neufville Shaw:  She got married.

Bruce Ruddick:  No she didn’t.  P.K. got married in 1950, but Preview died in 1944, and then Northern Review took over and it was rather encouraging.  We all thought it would be a great book but we went North with Sutherland.

F.R. Scott:  Neufville, what is your feeling about why the thing ended?

Neufville Shaw:  You, know, really, I couldn’t say.  We all just ran out.  We wrote ourselves out and got tired.  We were like toy machines, and someone wound us up.  It wasn’t Patrick who wound us up.   Maybe it was our age that wound us up.  And then we just ran down.

F.R. Scott:  I have the last number of Preview here, no. 23.  It opens with a story by P.K. Page, called “The Ducks”.   It goes on to a P.K. Page poem, then a poem by James Wreford.  Remember the Wreford incident?  He was a kind of happening.  Then there is a poem by Patrick Anderson, and a poem by Dennis Giblin, another poem by Dennis Giblin, and then there is a story “Portrait of a Marine” by Patrick Anderson, and that’s the end; and there is not the slightest indication in this last number that anything was going to end.   It just stops.

Bruce Ruddick:  There are only two of the original people writing: P.K. and Patrick.

F.R. Scott:  In that issue.  But you know I was around.  The editors — numbers of us — had gone, and it just came to an end.  And then the question was:  what did those of us who were around do?   And at that point we joined in with the old First Statement group, and became Northern Review.  But the first number of Northern Review contained a fair batch of old Preview Editors.

Bruce Ruddick:  That’s right.

F.R. Scott:  I just want to put on the record the statement about Northern Review, which starts off in its opening editorial with the cryptic remark “Northern Review represents the amalgamation of two wartime magazines, Preview and First Statement, but its editorial board has been fortified by writers from distant points.”  Actually the Editorial Board is here:  Managing Editor, John Sutherland; Editorial Board, F.R. Scott, A.M. Klein, Irving Layton, Patrick Anderson, A.J.M. Smith, Audrey Aikman, R.J. Simpson and Neufville Shaw Regional Editors:  P.K. Page, Dorothy Livesay, James Wreford and Ralph Gustafson.

Bruce Ruddick:  So that it reached out, to be as it said, a national magazine.  P.K Page had by this time gone out to Vancouver, and she was writing from there.  The number of Preview when we all broke up was 23.

F.R. Scott:  Bruce, now that we know when we stopped, tell me your deepest feelings about the Preview experience.

Bruce Ruddick:  Well, I had written poems because I wanted to, not because I ever had an audience, and not because I wanted them published.   I just wrote them, good, bad or indifferent, and I had a very good professor at McGill University who stimulated me to found The Forge magazine.

F.R. Scott:  Who.  Files?

Bruce Ruddick:  Yes, Files, and this was a parochial kind of thing.  The things I wrote were at least known in a little teeny weeny group.

F.R. Scott:  You founded The Forge?

Bruce Ruddick:  Yes, I founded The Forge. The day I was asked in here, I was introduced to a totally different world.   I was a medical student, dedicated in those days to learning my craft in medicine, but I came here and I met all of you people, and then I met the Painters through you.   You introduced me to every creative person in the whole City.  Being a member of Preview was not only writing, it was also a marvellously expansive life to me.   I was a little too joyous about it, I must admit, but it really liberated me from a rather parochial small thing into a grander sense of the creative intellect.  I still look back now twenty-five years later and think that if I were to say to various people, “If you had to cure yourself of a disease called loneliness, the best thing is to be an artist, and meet other artists, who are very sympathetic, very sweet, and also extremely critical and very nasty.”  But you were in a forum.  It was totally different from an academic situation, or a familial one.  You really walked out into a world of ideas.  We disagreed, or agreed.  It was liberating, illuminuting; it didn’t improve my life an awful lot, but it made me far more aware of the world I lived in.

F.R. Scott:  The question I have often asked myself is, can the individual of creative mind, just being by himself, develop fully, without some such experience as meeting with others?  As far as I am concerned, when I was left alone I don’t think I moved forward very much.  It was only when I ran into other groups of similar minded people that things happened.  My first case, of course, was the McGill Fortnightly Review.  I ran into A.J.M. Smith and met a whole set of new ideas, and that was to me the first, great, tremendous experience.   It seems to me I shifted about ten to fifteen points on the compass from an old attitude to a new one.  Then I had another similar type of group experience, and that was meeting the people who founded the League for Social Reconstruction, and all the new ideas about Canada and socialism and the world in that sense.  Then another group of people founding the C.C.F.  It was always a group, but live minds and marvellous people, and that carried me mostly through the 1930’s.  And then came Preview, which was poetry again, and another group, in a different context.  I didn’t have quite the same tremendous sense of the whole world opening afresh, and so many new ideas coming in, but nevertheless, it had that great spirit of creative minds thinking about themselves and the world and the movements around them, and attaching themselves to them.   But it was a group experience and in some respects I somehow wish I had been able to act more on my own, because I have always been working in groups and working in joint operations, and editing joint magazines and writing books for which I was only one of the many editors.  There is too much of this mixing in with the others.  On the other hand I sort of depend on it.  If I don’t have them around, I don’t think I would go very well on my own.  My car must be full.

Neufville Shaw: All art derives from previous experience.

Bruce Ruddick:  One of the greatest mathematicians was a fourteen year Indian boy, who developed a whole new theory of permutations, combinations and mathematical relations.  People have always wondered how the imaginative mind, by itself, springs forth.  But if you examine this boy’s life, you will find he was very well exposed to first-rate basics before he had his flight.  I am not talking now about Preview the creative thing, but I think of Preview as the most marvelloualy moving things to me, and I am sure to other people who were involved.