Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Wider Boundaries of Daring: The Modernist Impulse in Canadian Women's Poetry

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Wider Boundaries of Daring: The Modernist Impulse in Canadian Women's Poetry

Article excerpt

Di Brandt and Barbara Godard (eds), Wider Boundaries of Daring: The Modernist Impulse in Canadian Women's Poetry (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009), 424 pp. Paper $42.95. ISBN 978-1-55458-032-3.

Wider Boundaries of Daring borrows its title from Dorothy Livesay's poem 'We Are Alone', written in the 1930s, as Di Brandt informs her readers in her comprehensive introductory essay. Here Brandt explains the rationale behind this collection, which is an attempt to reassess the artistry and relevance of Canadian women poets in the modernist period given the neglect they have suffered from in their own country. A prolific writer such as Livesay, with a very long career and such a large spectrum of concerns in her works, which range from critical essays to long poems to prose autobiography and fiction, was by and large ignored in the first poetry anthologies to the advantages of her male contemporaries.

Livesay is the object of study in two essays in this collection, which is divided into two sections: 'The Making of Canadian Literary Modernism' and 'Literary Modernism as Cultural Act'. P.K. Page, in spite of an extensive career over nearly a century, experienced a critical fate similar to Livesay. An analogous case is Phyllis Webb, now considered among the best poets in the country for her 'formal and visionary innovative practices' (p. 7). Miriam Waddington, Anne Marriott, Margaret Avison and Elisabeth Smart are among the other poets discussed here. Particularly contemporary concerns emerge in Sandra Djwa's essay on P.K. Page, 'Discovery a Modern Sensibility'. Here the author underscores Page's nearness to Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. Similarly, in Elisabeth Brewster's poems one finds 'ongoing post/modern(ist) interrogations of subjectivity' (p. …

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