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 selectionwitty satires, short lyrics, and long sequencesreflect 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.
About the Author
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
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
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 ContentsTable of Contents for
All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek, selected with an introduction by Karis Shearer
Foreword | Neil Besner
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)
Line and Form
“Europe” at Sea
Advice to a Young Poet
The Retired Professor
Dedications and Intertexts
Kosmos: The Greek World (For Michael Lekakis)
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
from Europe (Fragment 95)
from En México
Afterword | by Frank Davey