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A Kind of Perseverance

by (author) Margaret Avison

Porcupine's Quill
Initial publish date
Feb 2010
Canadian, Essays
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2010
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In A Kind of Perseverance Margaret Avison shares with readers two lectures she gave at the University of Waterloo in 1993 -- 'Misunderstanding is Damaging' and 'Understanding is Costly'. Thoughtfully and with precision she tells of her journey, often unfocussed, that led finally to the Christian conversion that is central to an understanding of her poetry.

About the author

One of Canada's most respected poets, Margaret Avison was born in Galt, Ontario, lived in Western Canada in her childhood, and then in Toronto. In a productive career that stretched back to the 1940s, she produced seven books of poems, including her first collection, Winter Sun (1960), which she assembled in Chicago while she was there on a Guggenheim Fellowship, and which won the Governor General's Award. No Time (Lancelot Press), a work that focussed on her interest in spiritual discovery and moral and religious values, also won the Governor General's Award for 1990. Avison's published poetry up to 2002 was gathered into Always Now: the Collected Poems (Porcupine's Quill, 2003), including Concrete and Wild Carrot which won the 2003 Griffin Prize. Her most recent book, Listening, Last Poems, was published in 2009 by McClelland & Stewart.

Margaret Avison was the recipient of many awards including the Order of Canada and three honorary doctorates.

Margaret Avison's profile page

Editorial Reviews

'Avison is certainly among the best half dozen poets ever to publish in Canada.'

The Globe and Mail

'Avison breaks and cracks the poetic line until there is no comfort or softness left in a poetry that relentlessly searches.'

The Canada Council

'A Kind of Perseverance by Margaret Avison contains two long essays originally delivered as part of the annual Pascal Lectures on Christianity and University at the University of Waterloo in 1993. First published in 1994, this edition corrects errors in quotations and bibliographic information, but more importantly, makes available for readers another dimension of Avison's considerable output as a poet and thinker.'

OpenBook Toronto

'In editing the unfinished manuscript of Avison's autobiography and reissuing her 1993 Pascal Lectures on Christianity and the University, Stan Dragland and Joan Eichner, Avison's long-time friend and editorial assistant, have provided a fascinating journey through the allusive prose of a strong and private poet.... The Pascal Lectures at the University of Waterloo are Avison's most overt reflection on the relationship of faith to academic study. In talks entitled ''Misunderstanding is Damaging'' and ''Understanding is Costly,'' one of her key propositions is that ''the growing process is dangerous, and essential.'' Avison argues that growth in faith and growth in academic learning must struggle with one another: ''We are of our time, not outside it; we are in the miasma of this violent, headlong, desperate, fragmenting world,'' but ''[t]he more we listen to each other across the seeming barriers ... the more our categories and distinctions dwindle, if a search for God's truth is our concern.'' By a deft sleight of hand, Avison asserts that it is those who evade Christ and who ignore the Bible who are in the greatest danger of misunderstanding. The metaphors of scripture spill out into the metaphors of her poetic voice: the great paradox is that ''when Christ delivers a person, it is a jail-break out of lawlessness into freedom.'' '

Canadian Literature

Other titles by Margaret Avison

The Research Compendium

Review and Abstracts of Graduate Research, 1942-1962

edited by Margaret Avison, Albert Rose & Florence Strakhovsky

The Research Compendium

Review and Abstracts of Graduate Research, 1942-1962

edited by Margaret Avison, Albert Rose & Florence Strakhovsky

The Essential Margaret Avison

by (author) Margaret Avison

I Am Here and Not Not-There

by (author) Margaret Avison

More Joy in Heaven

by (author) Morley Callaghan
afterword by Margaret Avison


The Last Poems of Margaret Avison

by (author) Margaret Avison

Writing the Terrain

Travelling Through Alberta with the Poets

contributions by Ian Adam, Robert Stamp, Tammy Armstrong, Margaret Avison, Douglas Barbour, John O. Barton, Doug Beardsley, Bonnie Bishop, E.D. Blodgett, Robert Boates, George Bowering, Tim Bowling, Jan Boydol, Gordon Burles, Murdoch Burnett, Anne Campbell, Weyman Chan, Leonard Cohen, Dennis Cooley, Joan Crate, Michael Cullen, Cyril Dabydeen, Lorne Daniel, Alexa DeWiel, Jason Dewinetz, ryan fitzpatrick, Cecelia Frey, Gary Geddes, Gail Ghai, Deborah Godin, Jim Green, Leslie Greentree, Vivian Hansen, Tom Henihan, Michael Henry, Walter Hildebrandt, Gerald Hill, Robert Hilles, Nancy Holmes, Richard Hornsey, Tom Howe, Aislinn Hunter, Bruce Hunter, Laurence Hutchman, Sally Ito, Pauline Johnson, Aleksei Kazuk, Robert Kroetsch, Fiona Lam, William Latta, Tim Lilburn, Alice Major, Kim Maltman, Miriam Mandel, Sid Marty, David McFadden, Barry McKinnon, Erin Michie, Deborah Miller, Anna Mioduchowska, James M. Moir, Colin Morton, Erin Moure, Charles Noble, P.K. Page, Rajinderpal Pal, Ruth Roach Pierson, Joseph Pivato, Roberta Rees, D.C. Reid, Monty Reid, R. rickey, Ken Rivard, Stephen Scobie, Allan Serafino, Joan Shillington, Greg Simison, Carol Ann Sokoloff, Karen Solie, Stephan Stephansson, Peter Stevens, Ivan Sundal, Anne Swannell, Vanna Tessier, Colleen Thibadeau, John O. Thompson, James M. Thurgood, Eva Tihanyi, Yvonne Trainer, Aritha van Herk, Rosalee van Stelten, Miriam Waddington, James Wreford Watson, Wilfred Watson, Tom Wayman, Phyllis Webb, Jon Whyte, Christine Wiesenthal, Sheri-D Wilson, Christopher Wiseman, Stacie Wolfer, Rita Wong, Richard Woollatt & Jan Zwicky

Always Now

by (author) Margaret Avison

Concrete and Wild Carrot

by (author) Margaret Avison

Not Yet but Still

by (author) Margaret Avison