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Poetry General

Drowning Lessons

by (author) Maureen Scott Harris

edited by Barry Dempster

Pedlar Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2004
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2004
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Winner of the 2005 Trillium Award for Poetry || Because the poems in Drowning Lessons have been written over an extended period of time - and not with any particular idea in mind - I find it difficult to describe how or why they belong together. Reading through the MS I see certain recurrences, perhaps obsessions. I think the poems are haunted by absence, loss, things forgotten or missing, a certain experience of insubstantiality. Many of them take place underwater, both literally and figuratively. There's a great deal of drowning in these poems, though in only three instances is it a literal drowning I'm writing about. The poems seem often expressions of grief, but a grief that is (perhaps) hidden or unconscious, that doesn't know its own name. It's as if something presses forward to be seen or expressed, but does not necessarily make itself fully visible. || I suppose it's accurate to say that I think of this collection as a form of autobiography (though perhaps not an entirely trustworthy one). (And on second thought, is any autobiography entirely trustworthy?) Certainly memory and the past and the way things not dealt with persist in returning for attention are some of the experiences underlying the book. As is the way consciousness moves and shifts. -Maureen Scott Harris

About the authors

MAUREEN SCOTT HARRIS is a poet and essayist based in Toronto. Her second collection of poems, Drowning Lessons (Pedlar Press), was published in 2004 and that year won the Ontario Trillium Book Award for Poetry. Recent awards include the WildCare Tasmania Nature Writing Prize (2009), The LBJ/Avian Life/Literary Arts Sparrow Prize for Prose (2008), Second Prize in CV2's Two-Day Poem Contest (2007) and First Prize in Prairie Fire's Creative Non-Fiction Contest (2006).

Maureen Scott Harris' profile page

Barry Dempster is an award-winning poet, author, editor and mentor. He lives in Holland Landing, Ontario.



Fables For Isolated Men (Guernica Editions, Montreal, 1982) Shortlisted for the Governor General's Award
Globe Doubts (Quarry Press, Kingston, 1983)
Positions To Pray (Guernica Editions, Montreal, 1989)
The Unavoidable Man (Quarry Press, Kingston, 1990)
Letters From A Long Illness With The World, the D.H. Lawrence Poems (Brick Books, London, Ontario, 1993)
Fire and Brimstone (Empyreal Press, Montreal, 1997)
The Salvation of Desire (St. Thomas Press, Toronto, 2000)
The Words Wanting Out, Selected & New Poems (Nightwood Editions, Roberts Creek, 2003)
The Burning Alphabet (Brick Books, London, Ontario, 2005) Shortlisted for the Governor General's Award
Love Outlandish (Brick Books, London, Ontario, 2009)
Ivan's Birches (Pedlar Press, Toronto, 2009)
Blue Wherever (Signature Editions, 2010)
Dying a Little (Wolsak and Wynn, 2011)
Invisible Dogs (Brick Books, 2013)


Real Places and Imaginary Men (Oberon Press, Ottawa, 1984)
Writing Home (Oberon Press, Ottawa, 1989)
The Ascension of Jesse Rapture (Quarry Press, Kingston, 1993)

Barry Dempster's profile page

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