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.
'Avison is certainly among the best half dozen poets ever to publish in Canada.'
'Avison breaks and cracks the poetic line until there is no comfort or softness left in a poetry that relentlessly searches.'
'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.'
'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.'' '