The Stunted Strong is a new edition of the first book published by Fiddlehead Poetry Books, the company that became Goose Lane Editions. Fred Cogswell, its author, was also the company's founder.
The Stunted Strong is a sixteen-sonnet chapbook. The first and last poems create a context for the fourteen inner sonnets, each of which is a vivid sketch of an inhabitant of a rural community in the St. John River valley. The sequence portrays country people confined by frustration, obsession, and small victories, and it expresses in their characters the illimitable dreams and thwarting limitations of the human condition.
The publication of the second edition of The Stunted Strong marks Goose Lane's 50th anniversary and commemorates Fred Cogswell's lifelong devotion to poetry. The text is introduced by Robert Gibbs, Cogswell's friend, colleague, and fellow poet. Designed and printed by Gaspereau Press, the new edition of The Stunted Strong is a work of art in its own right.
About the author
Fred Cogswell (1917-2004) grew up in the farming community of East Centreville, New Brunswick, started teaching school when he was sixteen, and served overseas in the Canadian Army during the Second World War. After earning his BA and MA from the University of New Brunswick and his PhD from the University of Edinburgh, he became a professor of English at the University of New Brunswick. In 1954, Cogswell and others involved with the literary journal The Fiddlehead founded Fiddlehead Poetry Books. In 1957, Cogswell became the sole publisher, and by 1958 The Stunted Strong had been followed by two more volumes, one of which was Emu, Remember, by Al Purdy. One of only a few poetry publishers in Canada, Cogswell eventually published books by more than 300 poets. As well as devoting himself to poetry by others, Fred Cogswell left a large body of his own poetry. In his lifetime, he published more than 30 collections, and en route to the hospital just before he died, he and his daughter dropped his final manuscript in the mail. As well, in the 1970s, Cogswell pioneered translating French Canadian poetry into English, and in the 1980s, he began his landmark translations of Acadian poetry, often in collaboration with Jo-Anne Elder.