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Biography & Autobiography Literary

Floating Islands

A Writer's Early Life

by (author) Mike Doyle

Ekstasis Editions
Initial publish date
Oct 2015
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2015
    List Price

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Mike Doyle has lived in Victoria, BC for nearly half a century; a longtime Canadian citizen, as a poet he considers himself ‘cosmopolitan.’ He is also a biographer, critic and editor. Floating Islands tells the story of his Irish family background, his childhood and youth in London, England, during the 1930s Depression and the Second World War, through the blitz and the flying bombs. At age fourteen, he discovered his gift for poetry and decided to make it his life’s ambition. At 17, as a high school dropout, he joined the British Royal Navy. At 21 he was posted to Wellington, New Zealand. Two years later, his first serious poems were published in the quarterly Landfall. After naval service, he trained as a teacher and took a series of degrees leading eventually to a lectureship at Auckland University. His first poetry collection, A Splinter of Glass (1956) received several awards, including a UNESCO International Artist’s Fellowship, which enabled him to spend months travelling in the United States with the object of meeting American writers. Intended as a ‘warts and all’ rather than a back-patting life story, Floating Islands deals with events up to the point when a Fellowship of the American Council of Learned Societies enabled Doyle to spend a year as a visiting fellow in American Studies at Yale University, during which he wrote a book on the career of American poet William Carlos Williams and the book-length poem sequence, Earth Meditations, which later became his first Canadian book, published by Coach House Press, Toronto, in 1971.

About the author

Like most poets whose work began so far back, my earlier poems are more obviously formal than later ones. Although I took pains at a certain stage to loosen these forms and even escape from them, as I look back I rejoice in them, glad I was there for it to happen. Then, many later poems are formal in a more covert fashion, and that too I rejoice in. It took me a long while to ‘grow up’ as a poet, but since that happened, and gratifyingly often before it happened, what tends to characterize my poems is momentum, a kind of momentum in which the experience of the poem is very present even though its material and/or subject may be memory. An earlier poet saw the poem as ‘a slice of life seen through a temperament’. That seems right, if one adds that surprisingly often there is a mysterious element in the perception. From the Foreword by Mike DoyleMike Doyle is a poet, critic, biographer and editor. His other work includes William Carlos Williams and the American Poem (1982), Richard Aldington: A Biography (1989), Paper Trombones (2007), a journal of his life as a poet in Canada, and Intimate Absences (1993), a “Selected Poems” from work up to that date. He has also published critical essays on Williams, Wallace Stevens, H.D., Irving Layton, Al Purdy and others. He has received a UNESCO Creative Artist’s Fellowship, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, a Jessie Mackay (PEN) Award for Poetry. He wrote his book on Williams while a Research Fellow of American Studies at Yale University.

Mike Doyle's profile page

Other titles by Mike Doyle