A groundbreaking, comprehensive anthology of Canadian gay male poetry, the first of its kind, that reveals a national queer poetic that is equal parts eloquent, subversive, and moving. The material, from the 1890s to present-day, includes work by fifty-seven poets from every region of the country, including some from Quebec who have been translated into English for the first time. For many, the queer experience is central to their aesthetic, offering works of startling beauty and originality, some of which speak to our national identity while others transcend it.
The fifty-plus contributors include Patrick Anderson, bill bissett, Robin Blaser, Sky Gilbert, John Glassco, Brion Gysin, Daryl Hine, Douglas LePan, Daniel David Moses, Stan Persky, Andy Quan, Ian Iqbal Rashid, Shane Rhodes, Bill Richardson, André Roy, Gregory Scofield, Michael V. Smith, George Stanley, RM Vaughan, and Ian Young.
About the authors
John Barton has published ten previous collections of poetry and six chapbooks, including, most recently, Balletomane: The Program Notes of Lincoln Kirstein and For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin: Selected Poems, which were respectively published by JackPine Press and Nightwood Editions in 2012. Co-editor of Seminal: The Anthology of Canada's Gay-Male Poets, he has won three Archibald Lampman Awards, an Ottawa Book Award, a CBC Literary Award, and a National Magazine Award. Since 1980, his poems have appeared in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers across Canada and in the United States, Australia, China, India, and the U.K. Previously a writer-in-residence at the Saskatoon Public Library and at the University of New Brunswick, he has taught at the Sage Hill Writing Experience, the Banff Centre, and the University of Victoria. From 1985 to 2003, he worked as a librarian, a production manager, a publications coordinator, and an editor for five national museums in Ottawa, where he edited Vernissage: The Magazine of the National Gallery of Canada, and, in his spare time, Arc Poetry Magazine. He was the poetry editor for Signature Editions from 2005 to 2008 and has been a manuscript editor for Brick Books since 2010. He has lived in Victoria since 2004, where he edits The Malahat Review. Polari is his eleventh collection of poetry.
Billeh Nickerson is the author of two poetry collections, both published by Arsenal: McPoems and The Asthmatic Glassblower, nominated for the Publishing Triangle Poetry Prize. He is also the author of the humorous essay collection Let Me Kiss It Better: Elixirs for the Not So Straight and Narrow, and co-editor of Seminal: The Anthology of Canada's Gay Male Poets with John Barton. A founding member of the performance troupe "Haiku Night in Canada," he is the past editor of the literary journals Event and Prism international. He lives in Vancouver, where he teaches at Kwantlen University.
Follow Billeh Nickerson on Twitter
Barton's introduction is, simply, brilliant.... The brief history of early poets, such as Emile Nelligan, John Glassco, Douglas LePan, Patrick Anderson, E.A. Lacey, and Daryl Hine, is a note-perfect initiation into an often disregarded coterie.
Seminal ranges from Frank Oiver Call's turn-of-the-20th-century odes on Grecian boys to, well, Shane Rhodes' turn-of-the-21st-century odes on Grecian condoms (i.e. Trojans).
John Barton and Billeh Nickerson have done an incredible job bringing together the works of 57 writers.... Seminal encompasses life in all its ugly beautiful glory, but what makes this book live up to its name even more is that the works do not only appeal to gay men--like all effective poetry, there are universal themes that all should read and hopefully be moved by.
-Monday Magazine (Victoria, BC)
This collection of new and recent poetry by Gay Male Canadians is something of a revelation.... The editors, John Barton and Billeh Nickerson, have taken great care to expose the breadth of the work that has accumulated throughout the 20th century into the 21st century. Their goal, it is apparent, is to show the world that the language of the gay soul is alive and well, and frankly kicking, in the freer world of Canadian authors.
Readers might have some favorite Canadian writers, and we all havesome idea how gay liberation north of the border reflects and complements our own. But to get a real feeling for Canadian gay male voices-from the 1890s to today-it would be hard to top Seminal: The Anthology of Canada's Gay Male Poets. Editors John Barton and Billeh Nickerson have put together a groundbreaking collection.... This collection is really important and something to celebrate. ArsenalPulp Press in Vancouver continues to impress with a catalog of titlesthat are entertaining, original and sometimes historic.
The first of its kind, it is a major addition to the rather thin shelf of Canadian gay lit.... Not only does the collection rescue several key writers from neglect or oblivion (like two-time Governor-General Award winner Robert Finch, or the groundbreaking Edward Lacey, one of Canada's first out gay poets. It also reaches outside the usual Canadian canon to establish new geneologies of connection.... I wish this collection had been around when I was a teenager. It deserves a place in every high school library.
This volume provides solid proof that [Canada] has a substantial queer poetic canon all its own.
-Richard Labonte, Books to Watch Out For
Books to Watch Out For
Considering the virtual invisiblity of gay Canadian poetry, its hefty 368 pages come as a surprise. The range of voices and styles is impressive too, from the in-your-face iconoclasm of bill bissett and Sky Gilbert to the bittersweet humour of RM Vaughan and George Stanley.
-Xtra! West & Xtra
Xtra! & Xtra! West
Both John Barton and Billeh Nickerson deserve accolades for fathering this historic, vital and truly seminal text.
- George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle Herald
Halifax Chronicle Herald
The editors cast a wide net.... The volume succeeds, in the words of the introduction, in providing a "point of departure to revisit, revise or even repudiate" the constructed tradition. Recommended for Canadian libraries and for libraries in the United States which have LGBT Studies or Canadian Studies programs.
-GLBT Round Table Newsletter (American Library Association)
GLBT Round Table Newsletter
This anthology (with its double-entrendre title) collects an impressive range of gay male poets, both English and French, from familiar names such as bill bissett, Sky Gilbert, and R.M. Vaughan, to more surprising inclusions such as Emile Nelligan, Bill Richardson, and Joel Gibb of the indie-rock group The Hidden Cameras.
-Quill & Quire
Quill & Quire
This is a book for all lovers of poetry, regardless of social, sexual or political status. Perhaps most striking about Seminal is its universality and its fidelity to the music and sheer sense of poetry at its core; poetry that, as all good poetry must, transcends time and place with universal insight and compassion.