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The Essential Eugene McNamara by Eugene McNamara and Phil Hall  

In The Essential Eugene McNamara, poetry pushes the barriers of language and grammar, daring to convey raw emotion with disarming empathy.

Eugene McNamara’s poetry ponders the textures and contradictions of his adopted city: Windsor, Ontario. Most comfortable in small, non-eloquent, delinquent, unpopular and wayward places, McNamara’s poems display abiding empathy with the inhabitants of these locales, conveying raw emotion through deceptively simple lines in which ‘voices cry wait / we didn’t want this / and the wind slams the words / around the corners of the empty / buildings down the empty / streets.’ The result is a selection offering poems of humility and grace that empathize rather than intellectualize.

The Essential Poets Series presents the works of Canada’s most celebrated poets in a package that is beautiful, accessible and affordable. The Essential Eugene McNamara is the twenty-fourth volume in this increasingly popular series.

Excerpt from book

Elevating Device Licence

a man looks up at the sky
as if he heard something
faint and pretty    like music
in the supermarket or a
weather satellite a plane
an angel shouting    now

he looks down    nothing up there
at all and down here nothing
but light off car windows a dog
barking its fool head off and
a man standing under empty sky
with his empty hands hanging
down having thought he heard
something like music and he
feels foolish and alone

What Have You Forgotten

something is trying to get
out from under the bed a
dream so sunken you forgot
it when the radio switched
on a new high pressure area
moving in was announced so
your day began on a new high
it became low in the third
hour dark clouds racing it
was colder something was
trying to tell you it was
there still waiting for you
lying in wait a thing so big
it was crowding the bed so
palpable heaving sobs there
pining for you it will shrink
to a ball when you come back
you yawn to sleep falling
ah then it crawls up perches
on your chest a thing with
feathers breathing your name
telling you the deep story
the bloody the skinny dream
then morning the radio says
high or low or rain or sun
it hisses under the bed again
sulking swelling with its
presence all day waiting
what have you forgotten you
wonder in common daylight
you say you sleep with no


Credit: Marty Gervais

Eugene McNamara was a Canadian writer and professor. He was born in 1930 in Oak Parks, Illinois, and received his PhD from Northwestern University. He moved to Canada in 1959 to begin teaching American Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, where his influence lives on in the Eugene McNamara Creative Writing Scholarship. He published many books of poetry and short stories between 1965 and 2015, and became known for the direct and musical phrasing of his poetry, and for his character-driven short stories. McNamara died in 2016.


Credit: Ann Silversides

Phil Hall has published twenty books of poetry and many chapbooks. He has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in English and Ontario’s Trillium Book Award, and he has twice been nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize. He has served as writer-in-residence at many Canadian institutions, including the University of New Brunswick, and the Pierre Berton House in the Yukon. His most recent work, The Ash Bell (2022), is published by Beautiful Outlaw Press. He lives in Perth, Ontario.

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.

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POETRY / Canadian

POETRY / General

ISBN-13: 9780889844605

Publication Date: 2022-10-18

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 64

Price: $14.95