The Essential Elizabeth Brewster

By Elizabeth Brewster and Ingrid Ruthig

© 2021

In The Essential Elizabeth Brewster, questioning, conversational poetry melds the private and the collective, exploring the challenges of constructing selfhood and voicing historically silenced female perspectives.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Porcupine's Quill
  • Page Count: 64 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.6in x 0.3in x 8.8in
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SKU# DT176773

  • AVAILABLE APR 2021
    From: $14.95
    ISBN 9780889848788

Quick Overview

Despite an impressive post-secondary education and a body of work that spans more than twenty books and seven decades, Elizabeth Brewster's quiet humility in the face of `all that tradition' of the Western literary canon belies her contribution to Canada's cultural history. Perhaps fittingly, her poems demonstrate a sense of isolation, a quest for selfhood, a desire to understand and to be understood. Often conversational in tone, her poems are direct and characterized by a deliberate economy of language and freedom from the restrictions of traditional form. Editor Ingrid Ruthig examines the aesthetic touchstones, stylistic shifts and thematic range in the poetry of a woman `whose work is included in critical anthologies while her name is missing from their introductions.'



The Essential Poets Series presents the works of Canada's most celebrated poets in a package that is beautiful, accessible and affordable. The Essential Elizabeth Brewster is the twenty-second volume in the increasingly popular series.

The Essential Elizabeth Brewster

By Elizabeth Brewster and Ingrid Ruthig

© 2021

In The Essential Elizabeth Brewster, questioning, conversational poetry melds the private and the collective, exploring the challenges of constructing selfhood and voicing historically silenced female perspectives.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Porcupine's Quill
  • Page Count: 64 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.6in x 0.3in x 8.8in

Elizabeth Brewster (1922-2012) was part of a second wave of modernist poets who helped influence the national conversation about Canadian poetry. Born in Chipman, New Brunswick, Brewster was the frail fifth child in a family unsettled by poverty. While her early school attendance was irregular, nothing stopped her from reading, writing, and later, seeking higher education, first at the University of New Brunswick, where she helped to establish the vaunted literary journal The Fiddlehead, and then at a number of institutions including Harvard's Radcliffe College; King's College, London; and Indiana University. She settled in Saskatoon, and taught literature and creative writing at the University of Saskatchewan from 1972 until she retired in 1990. Brewster died in December of 2012 in Saskatoon, at the age of 90. (Image courtesy of University of Saskatchewan, University Archives and Special Collections, Photograph Collection, A-11138.)

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Ingrid Ruthig, writer, poet, visual artist, and former architect, is the author of This Being (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2016), winner of the League of Canadian Poets 2017 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Her work has appeared widely, most recently in Resisting Canada (Véhicule Press, 2019) and Am, Be: The Poetry of Wayne Clifford (Frog Hollow Press, 2018). A 2018 Hawthornden Fellow, she is the editor of several books, including David Helwig: Essays on His Works (Guernica Editions, 2018) and The Essential Anne Wilkinson (The Porcupine's Quill, 2014). She lives near Toronto with her family.


Blueflag

So that I would not pick the blueflag
in the midst of the pond
(and get my clothes wet)
my mother told me that it was poison.

I watched this beautiful, frightening flower
growing up from the water
from its green reeds,
washed blue, sunveined,
and wanted it more
than all the flowers I was allowed to pick,
wild roses, pink and smooth as soap,
or the milk-thin daisies
with butterblob centres.

I noticed that the midges
that covered the surface of the water
were not poisoned by the blueflag,
but I thought they must have
a different kind of life from mine.

Even now, if I pick one,
fear comes over me, a trembling.
I half expect to be struck dead
by the flower's magic

a potency seeping
from its dangerous blue skin
its veined centre.

On Reading Another Poet

I think we are being given the same messages
that oracles are speaking in our dreams
warning admonition code
syllables of unknown meaning.

We are not in competition.
If I say the same thing
it is not because I copy
but because the voice says so.

Maybe there will be hundreds of us
like choric echoes.
It will not matter
that the words repeat themselves

so long as what is said
rises like the tide in all our separate waves
and beats upon and shapes the dreaming shore.