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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

I Am Here and Not Not-There

by (author) Margaret Avison

Porcupine's Quill
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
Personal Memoirs, Literary, Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price

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'Margaret Avison was a highly regarded Canadian poet who saw poetry as her life's vocation but shied away from being publicly labelled a poet. She has been called reclusive, introspective; her poetry difficult and demanding. And yet, as shown by her enigmatically titled autobiography, I am Here and Not Not-There, she was also a woman with a lively curiosity and a real love for the world.'

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


  • Runner-up, Independent Publisher (IPPY) awards

Editorial Reviews

'This week I received a large package in the mail. I opened it to find the 352-page volume I Am Here And Not Not-There: An Autobiography. It is the autobiography of Margaret Avison -- the exceptional Canadian poet who passed away on July 31, 2007. Not only is Margaret Avison one of the most celebrated poets Canada has ever had -- having won the Governor General's Award for poetry in 1960 and 1990, and the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2003 -- but she participated with The Word Guild by twice contributing to the Write! Toronto conference, and by being the winner of the Leslie K. Tarr Career Achievement Award in 2005. I am not writing of this book, so much, to encourage you to buy it -- unless you are a long-time fan of Avison -- but primarily to point out the weight of her contribution. Sarah Klassen once wrote in Prairie Fire, ''It is Avison's unique accomplishment to write, in and for a secular world, about faith and God, with intelligence and without becoming either sentimental or preachy.'' Surprisingly, it is the secular literary community -- not the church -- that has most valued Avison's legacy. I think it's high time that we begin to celebrate Margaret Avison!'

'A consummate perfectionist who savoured every word, delighted in twisting and extending its conceptual sinews, purified its cadence, and plumbed its deepest interiority, Avison fought with words in the same way you would wrestle with an angel. Her startling images drawn from nature and technology left one in no doubt that a greater wisdom than knowledge is lost to those whose gods of efficiency, calculation, technical mastery, and data assembly deafen them to the sounds and furies of the natural world, blind them to the beauties of ordinary epiphanies, and dull that imagination that brings us close to Divinity.'

Saint John Telegraph-Journal

'A high-school teacher once told a young Margaret Avison to eschew the first person singular in her writing for 10 years. It was a directive the naturally withdrawn Avison readily took to heart. Nevertheless, the quintessential Canadian literary question is Alice Munro's: ''Who do you think you are?'' It is a question an older Avison consistently demands of herself in this posthumously published autobiography.'

Quill & Quire

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

A Kind of Perseverance

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