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Poetry Canadian

South of North

Images of Canada

by (author) Richard Outram

illustrated by Thoreau MacDonald

Porcupine's Quill
Initial publish date
Oct 2007
Canadian, General, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2007
    List Price

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A posthumous collection of uncommon plainsong from the poet Richard Outram, with drawings by Thoreau MacDonald.

About the authors

Outram was born in Canada in 1930. He was a graduate of the University of Toronto (English and Philosophy), and worked for many years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a stagehand crew leader. He wrote more than twenty books, four of these published by the Porcupine's Quill (Man in Love [1985], Hiram and Jenny [1988], Mogul Recollected [1993], and Dove Legend [2001]). He won the City of Toronto Book Award in 1999 for his collection Benedict Abroad (St Thomas Poetry Series). His poetry is the subject of a significant work of literary criticism, Through Darkling Air: The Poetry of Richard Outram, by Peter Sanger (Gaspereau Press, 2010).

Richard Outram died in 2005.

Richard Outram's profile page

Thoreau MacDonald (1901-1989) was born in Toronto, Ontario. His formative years were spent in rural areas near High Park, and in Thornhill, north of Toronto. Thoreau's drawings and writings about the wild plants and animals native to these regions reflect his deep concern for and support of nature conservation.

Thoreau created thousands of images including pencil sketches, pen and brush drawings, stencils, linocuts, woodcuts, silkscreens, watercolours and oils. He is perhaps best remembered for creating detailed line drawings of natural objects set within their stylized habitats.

Under his Woodchuck Press imprint, Thoreau designed and published sixteen books or booklets of his own work. His drawings and calligraphy have adorned hundreds of books written by others most notable among which are Flint and Feather, E. Pauline Johnson, 1924; Lyrics of Earth, Archibald Lampman, 1925; The Chopping Bee and other Laurentian Stories, Brother Marie Victorin, 1925; West by East, J. E. H. MacDonald, 1933; Maria Chapdelaine, Louis Hemon, translated by W. H. Blake, 1938; Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1942; and David and Other Poems, Earle Birney, 1942.

Thoreau MacDonald was the son of Group of Seven member J. E. H. MacDonald. His work is found in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Hart House at the University of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection amongst others.

Thoreau MacDonald's profile page


  • Short-listed, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year

Editorial Reviews

'Outram's elegant poetics are complemented by MacDonald's evocative graphics, tastefully selected by Anne Corkett and Rosemary Kilbourn, who also provide an informative introduction plus notes on both author and artist. Poems such as Outram's ''Arctic Myth'' evoke complexities of being, creation, and psychic movement over a wind-drift landscape. Travelling from Vancouver to Tantramar, across mountain, foothill, lake country, farmland and wetland, Outram provides a travelogue of sharply focused poetic snapshots charged with immediacy and the breath of a moment, as in ''Dawn'': ''Blinds still down: but thin blue smoke / arrows up from the farmhouse, / Swiftly ribbed light climbs, feral, / up and over the furrowed drumlin. / Beyond the cedars a dog fox coughs. Once. / An axe-blow cracks daybreak.'' The Zen-like precision of these poems extends perceptions of earlier visionaries such as Wallace Stevens.'

Canadian Literature

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