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All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek

All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek

All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek

All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek


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A passionate believer in the power of art—and especially poetry—to influence and critique contemporary culture, Louis Dudek devoted much of his life to shaping the Canadian literary scene through his meditative and experimental poems as well as his work in publishing and teaching. All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek brings together thirty-five of Dudek’s poems written over the course of his sixty-year career.

Much of Dudek’s poetry is about the practice of art, with comment on the way the craft of poetry is mediated by such factors as university classes, public readings, reviews, commercial presses, and academic conferences. The poems in this selection—witty satires, short lyrics, and long sequences—reflect self-consciously on the relationship between art and life and will draw readers into the dramatic mid-century literary and cultural debates in which Dudek was an important participant.

Karis Shearer’s introduction provides an overview of Dudek’s prolific career as poet, professor, editor, publisher, and critic, and considers the ways in which Dudek’s functional poems help, both formally and thematically, to carry out the tasks associated with those roles. Comparing Dudek’s reception to that of NourbeSe Philip, Marilyn Dumont, and Roy Miki, Frank Davey’s afterword locates Dudek in a pre-1980s version of multiculturalism that is more complex than many critics would have it. According to Davey, Dudek broadened the limits on the possible range and type of poetry for subsequent generations of Canadian writers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781554580392
Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Publication date: 04/24/2008
Series: Laurier Poetry
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Louis Dudek was one of Canada’s most important and influential cultural workers. After gaining his PhD from Columbia University, Dudek in 1951 returned from New York to Montreal, the city of his birth, to take up a position as professor of English at McGill. Dudek’s return to Canada marked the beginning of his efforts to revolutionize the Montreal poetry scene through little magazines and small-press publishing, providing alternatives to commercial presses and opportunities for talented young poets. In 1956 he started The McGill Poetry Series, which gave a start to several young poets, including Leonard Cohen. The author of numerous books of poetry, Louis Dudek died in 2001.

Karis Shearer is currently a doctoral candidate at The University of Western Ontario, where she is completing her dissertation on postmodern cultural workers and the Canadian long poem. She has published articles on women’s writing and the poetry of Lynn Crosbie, and has guest-edited an issue of Open Letter on new Canadian fiction writers.

Frank Davey has been a poet, editor, small-magazine publisher, literary critic, and cultural critic in Canada since 1961. He is editor and co-founder of the influential poetry newsletter Tish (1961-63) and since 1965 editor of Open Letter, the Canadian journal of writing and theory. With Fred Wah in 1984, he founded SwiftCurrent, the world’s first online literary magazine, and operated it until 1990. His more than forty books include Louis Dudek and Raymond Souster (1980), The Abbotsford Guide to India (1986), Reading Canadian Reading (1988), Canadian Literary Power (1994), and Back to the War (2005).

Read an Excerpt

For William Carlos Williams by Louis Dudek

You want your truths told of you—

those wavery lines!

Each pencil mark's a fiddlehead

unfolding to an island of wild fern,

O hell, did you have to do it

now, Bill

when we were just getting

the whiplash of your New Measure, crack

of the words in the sun, over the woman eating

plums, over the burning greens?

When we were getting the hang of it, to your glory,

and bringing the baskets home,

stuff you planted in your Earlier and Later

Collected Poems

praising the world

and talking to the cabman

about “Pound and economics” so many beginnings

Those forceps, stethoscopes (the way to their hearts)

and medical books you could never keep up with

—thrown away, finished?

Isn't it (death) stupid? That all a man is,

those immediate moments

you tried to cling to, should be thought “ephemeral”?

Death is a liar, Bill Williams Don't think for a minute

that we believe him It's all the same

It's as you said, every minute of it, here, now, real and forever.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents for
All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek, selected with an introduction by Karis Shearer

Foreword | Neil Besner

Biographical Note

Introduction | Karis Shearer

On Poetry and Profession

Functional Poetry: A Proposal

Theory of Art

What we Profess


It Is An Art

Hellcats in Heaven (Report on the book Cerberus)

Kingston Conference

Poetry Reading

Line and Form

“Europe” at Sea


Advice to a Young Poet

The Retired Professor

Old Books

Dedications and Intertexts

For E.P.

Kosmos: The Greek World (For Michael Lekakis)

Emily Dickinson

James Reaney’s Dream Inside a Dream, or The Freudian Wish

Irving Layton’s Poem in Early Spring

Rich Man’s Paradise (After F.R. Scott)

Quebec Religious Hospital by A.M. Klein

Carman’s Last Home

Europe Without Baedeker But with Pound

Tar and Feathers

Reply to Envious Arthur

The Progress of Satire (For F.R. Scott and A.J.M. Smith)

The Demolitions (For John Glassco)

A Note for Leonard Cohen

Tao (For F.R.S)

For Ron Everson (After Ezra Pound, and Confucius)



For William Carlos Williams

Long Poems

from Europe (Fragment 95)

from En México

Afterword | by Frank Davey


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