Earle Birney (1904-1995), the father of modern Canadian poetry, was one of Canada's finest writers and the author of "David," arguably the most popular Canadian poem of all time. One Muddy Hand: Selected Poems features Birney's best work, spanning his entire writing career from 1926 to 1987.
Born in Calgary, Birney grew up in different parts of Alberta before his family settled in Banff. In 1922 he enrolled at the University of British Columbia, where he received his BA in English. He earned his MA and PhD from the University of Toronto and also studied at Berkeley and the University of London. Birney's first and second volumes of poetry, David and Other Poems, and Now is Time, both won the Governor General's Award. In addition to publishing over twenty collections of poems over his lifetime, he published two novels, including Turvey--which won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour in 1949--several plays, three books of criticism and a memoir. Birney was a noted teacher of creative writing and literature, known for inspiring a generation of students to become writers, educators and scholars. He had a distinguished career at UBC, where he founded Canada's first creative writing department in 1963, and he was University of Toronto's first writer-in-residence in 1965.
Using Birney's Ghost in the Wheels: Selected Poems as a guide, editor Sam Solecki chose the remainder of the poems. Here are Birney's most-loved poems, such as "David," "Bushed," "A walk in Kyoto," "The bear on the Delhi road," "El Greco: Espolio" and "For Wailan," a sequence of love poems that are among the best in the Canadian canon. The only Birney book of poems currently available, One Muddy Hand brings a canonical author's poetry back into print and will be an important addition to bookshelves everywhere.