This volume features thirty-five of Don McKay’s best poems, which are selected with a contextualizing introduction by Méira Cook that probes wilderness and representation in McKay, and the canny, quirky, thoughtful, and sometimes comic self-consciousness the poems adumbrate. Included is McKay’s afterword written especially for this volume in which McKay reflects on his own writing process—its relationship to the earth and to metamorphosis.
Don McKay has published eight books of poetry. He won the Governor General’s Award in 1991 (for Night Field) and in 2000 (for Another Gravity), a National Magazine Award (1991), and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry in 1984 (for Birding, Or Desire). Don McKay was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize for Camber and was the Canadian winner of the 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize for Strike/Slip. Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, McKay has been active as an editor, creative writing teacher, and university instructor, as well as a poet. He has taught at the University of Western Ontario, the University of New Brunswick, The Banff Centre, The Sage Hill Writing Experience, and the BC Festival of the Arts. He has served as editor and publisher of Brick Books since 1975 and from 1991 to 1996 as editor of The Fiddlehead. He resides in British Columbia.
About the authors
Don McKay has published numerous books of poetry, including Birding, or desire (1983), Night Field (1991), Apparatus (1997), Another Gravity (2000), Strike/Slip (2006), The Muskwa Assemblage (2008), and Paradoxides (2012). He won the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2007, two Governor General's Awards for Poetry (in 1991 and 2000), a National Magazine Award in 1991, the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for Poetry (in 1983 and 2013), and the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award in 2013. His books have also appeared on the shortlists for the Governor General's Award for Non-fiction (in 2002), the Governor General's Award for Poetry (in 1983 and 1997), and the Griffin Poetry Prize (in 2001 and 2005). He was named to the Order of Canada in 2009
McKay is also a respected editor, teacher, and scholar. He has taught at the University of Western Ontario, the University of New Brunswick, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Sage Hill Writing Experience. He has served as editor and co-publisher of Brick Books since 1975, and from 1991 to 1996, he edited The Fiddlehead. He presently lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Méira Cook is the award-winning author of the novels The House on Sugarbush Road, which won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, and Nightwatching, which won the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. She has also published five poetry collections, most recently Monologue Dogs, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and for the 2016 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. She won the CBC Poetry Prize in 2007 and the inaugural Walrus Poetry Prize in 2012. In 2011 she served as Writer in Residence at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture, and was the 2013–14 Writer in Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library. Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, she now lives in Winnipeg.
Excerpt: Field Marks: The Poetry of Don McKay (by (author) Don McKay; edited by Meira Cook)
Field Marks: by Don McKay
just like you and me but
cageless, likes fresh air and
wants to be his longing.
wears extra eyes around his neck, his mind
pokes out his ears the way an Irish Setter's nose
pokes out a station-wagon window.
His heart is suet. He would be a bird book full of
lavish illustrations with a text of metaphor.
He would know but still
be slippery in time. He would eat crow. He becomes
hyperbole, an egghead who spends days attempting to compare the
shape and texture of her thigh to a snowy egret's neck, elegant
and all too seldom seen in Southern Ontario.
He utters absolutes he instantly forgets. Because
the swallow is intention in a fluid state it is
impossible for it to “miss. “ On the other
hand a swallow's evening has been usefully compared
to a book comprised entirely of errata slips.
He wings it.
''The books are fairly slim (ranging from fifty-six to eighty pages), but each provides a decent outline of the respective poet's career, style, and dominant concerns. The introductory essays are straightforward and informative--they provide a useful interpretive framework for anyone coming to this poetry for the first time. These volumes seem designed for students and educators; each offers a more complete picture of the poet than one would get from an anthology.''
University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2006, Volume 77, Number 1, Winter 2008
''Selected and compiled by Méira Cook (who also provides the reader with an extensive and informative introduction) [and] enhanced with the inclusion of an essay by McKay ... Field Marks is a superb introduction to an accomplished poet and will motivate the reader to search out his other published works.''
The Midwest Book Review, August 2006
''The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming.''
Canadian Literature, 193, Summer 2007
Other titles by Don McKay
All New Animal Acts
Essays, Stretchers, Poems
Collected Poems 1970-2014
The Shell of the Tortoise
Four Essays & an Assemblage
Leaf to Leaf
Open Wide a Wilderness
Canadian Nature Poems
The Muskwa Assemblage
Bird Construction Co.
Poetry from the Banff Writing Studio 2008