About the Author

Phyllis Webb

Phyllis Webb
Phyllis Webb worked for many years as a writer and broadcaster for the CBC, where she created the radio program “Ideas” in 1965 and was its executive producer from 1967 to 1969.

Her 1980 work Wilson’s Bowl was hailed by Northrop Frye as “a landmark in Canadian poetry.”

As Stephen Scobie once wrote, the work of Phyllis Webb “has always been distinguished by the profundity of her insights, the depth of her emotional feeling, the delicacy and accuracy of her rhythms, the beauty and mysterious resonance of her images—and by her luminous intelligence.”

Phyllis Webb received the BC Gas Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, the Order of Canada in 1992, and the 1982 Governor General’s Award for Selected Poems: The Vision Tree.

Books by this Author
Hanging Fire

Hanging Fire

edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian
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Peacock Blue

Peacock Blue

The Collected Poems
edition:Book
also available: Book
tagged : canadian
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Selected Poems

Selected Poems

The Vision Tree
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian
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Windflower

Windflower

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary
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Excerpt

The rugged land, so naked under its persistent sky, had no shelter anywhere to offer love. Even the summer night, which scarcely darkens here, was not a refuge.

Over towards the white men’s village, it was true, there was the old hangar abandoned by the air charter company, with its tumbledown roof, but two fierce dogs had just been posted there.

The Eskimo parents themselves, with their indulgent natures, might not have offered much opposition to meetings between their daughters and the young Americans stationed in the region. But where could they be together? The cabins almost never contained a bedroom or even a real bed. Lovemaking must be conducted, most of the time, in haste, under the derisive eye of some witness. Deprived of mystery, it was thus, here even more than elsewhere, reduced to what is said to be its essential. Human beings coupled at times like the animals, as they chanced to meet, on the harsh moss of the tundra, exposed to the pitiless sky.

Some of the bolder gi’s had tried, with the connivance of the sentries, to bring girls into their barracks. This had gone so badly for them that even the Eskimo parents had been startled. Such a punishment for something that was after all only natural!

So the pure terrible country, which lies open from one end to the other had, you might say, neither time nor place favourable to love. Except, in a pinch, the faint dip in the ground midway between the army barracks and the Eskimo village that stretched at some length along the shore of the Koksoak River. In this partly sheltered hollow a little earth, come from no one knew where, had gathered through the years. Not very much, just a fine scanty layer, but grasses had eventually managed to take root there and, later, trees. Trees? Well, poor midget trees, small sickly creatures, at once childish-looking and very old, wrinkled all over. On the other hand, they grew stiflingly close, they too driven by that inexorable law of nature: the more hostile the conditions, the fiercer the struggle to multiply.

There was little advantage, however, in going right into this thicket, for, once within it, though finally shielded from the staring of the sky, you were at the mercy of the most cunning scourge of that inhuman country: at the heart of these damp rotting bushes was the domain of incessantly breeding insects.

Even so, when a year or two had passed since a detachment of the American army had come to this little lost post of Fort Chimo, a fairly large number of children of mixed blood was born in the Eskimo village.

Among these births there was one as dazzling to the people of the region as the appearance in their sky of a new star.

In testimony then, here is the story, just as it is told in those parts, of Elsa, daughter of Archibald and Winnie Kumachuk. . . .

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Writing the Terrain

Writing the Terrain

Travelling Through Alberta with the Poets
contributions by Karen Solie; Rosalee van Stelten; Joseph Pivato; Charles Noble; Stacie Wolfer; William Latta; Christopher Wiseman; Cyril Dabydeen; Yvonne Trainer; Robert Boates; Monty Reid; John O. Thompson; Alexa DeWiel; Tom Howe; Leslie Greentree; John O. Barton; Tammy Armstrong; Doug Beardsley; Laurence Hutchman; Murdoch Burnett; Stephen Scobie; Aleksei Kazuk; Colleen Thibadeau; Colin Morton; Sid Marty; Greg Simison; Nancy Holmes; Vivian Hansen; Walter Hildebrandt; P. K. Page; Richard Woollatt; Gail Ghai; Kim Maltman; Joan Shillington; Robert Stamp; Wilfred Watson; Michael Cullen; Robert Hilles; Erin Michie; Deborah Miller; Jan Boydol; Robert Kroetsch; Miriam Waddington; Jon Whyte; Leonard Cohen; r. rickey; Tim Bowling; Ivan Sundal; Phyllis Webb; Weyman Chan; Bruce Hunter; Ryan Fitzpatrick; D.C. Reid; Cecelia Frey; Sally Ito; Bonnie Bishop; Ian Adam; Deborah Godin; Margaret Avison; Joan Crate; Rajinderpal Pal; Miriam Mandel; James M. Moir; Anne Swannell; Tim Lilburn; Pauline Johnson; Lorne Daniel; James Wreford Watson; Erin Moure; Ruth Roach Pierson; Stephan Stephansson; Aritha van Herk; Fiona Lam; Jan Zwicky; James M. Thurgood; Roberta Rees; E.D. Blodgett; Gordon Burles; Eva Tihanyi; Carol Ann Sokoloff; Jim Green; Dennis Cooley; Christine Wiesenthal; Vanna Tessier; Douglas Barbour; Richard Hornsey; Ken Rivard; George Bowering; Aislinn Hunter; Anne Campbell; Tom Wayman; Peter Stevens; Anna Mioduchowska; David McFadden; Gary Geddes; Rita Wong; Barry McKinnon; Tom Henihan; Michael Henry; Alice Major; Allan Serafino; Gerald Hill; Jason Dewinetz & Sheri-D Wilson
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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The Griffin Poetry Prize 2004 Anthology

The Griffin Poetry Prize 2004 Anthology

A Selection of the 2004 Shortlist
edited by Phyllis Webb
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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