The Essential Poets Series

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The Essential Poets Series presents the works of Canada’s most celebrated poets in a package that is beautiful, accessible, and affordable. There are currently thirteen volumes in the series, including works by Margaret Avison, P. K. Page and James Reaney. Browse this page to learn more about the books and authors in the Essential Poets Series.

Plus:

  • Learn about how The Essential Poets Series came to be in this article by PQL publisher Tim Inkster.
  • Click here for an audio interview with volume editors Amanda Jernigan, Ingrid Ruthig and Shane Neilson as they discuss the series on Art Waves.
The Essential Poets Series

TEACHING RESOURCES

Calling all teachers!

Looking for resources on how to get students talking about poetry in the classroom? Check out our handy teaching guide, Unpacking Poetry. Written by volume editor Ingrid Ruthig, the resource also contains a lesson plan and handouts to help expose sudents to The Essential Poets Series, and teach The Essential Anne Wilkinson.

SERIES VOLUMES

The Essential Jay Macpherson
The Essential Jay Macpherson
selected by Melissa Dalgleish
ISBN 978-0-88984-401-8

* COMING SOON *

The Essential Jay Macpherson reveals an unexpected complexity in the poetry of one of the leading figures of Canada’s mythopoeic modernist movement.

 

The Essential D. G. Jones
The Essential D. G. Jones
selected by Jim Johnstone
ISBN 978-0-88984-398-1

In The Essential D. G. Jones, volume editor Jim Johnstone presents a selection of the most important writings of Douglas Gordon Jones, one of the few of Canada's great lyric poets to expertly straddle the line between the modern and postmodern era.

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The Essential Travis Lane
The Essential Travis Lane
selected by Shane Neilson
ISBN 978-0-88984-388-2

‘At their best, these poems reveal the complex drama between a wild earth and its inhabitants, folding history and memory into meticulous scenes.’

—Karen Rigby, Foreword Reviews

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The Essential Daryl Hine
The Essential Daryl Hine
selected by James Pollock
ISBN 978-0-88984-385-1

‘This latest addition to The Porcupine Quill's series of Essential Poets ... reenforced for me the importance of Hine as an alternative voice in an era with too little appreciation for the history and the possibilities of formal poetry. It is here, I think, that the value of this volume and of Hine's legacy as a whole truly lies, in its potential to provoke a new generation of Canadian writers to engage and renew the tradition of poetry.’

—Jeremy Luke Hill, From Word to Word

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The Essential Anne Wilkinson
The Essential Anne Wilkinson
selected by Ingrid Ruthig
ISBN 978-0-88984-376-9

‘The strength of The Essential Anne Wilkinson is its editor's ability to distil the best examples of Wilkinson's ludic humour, polished lines, intimate voice, wide-ranging allusion, and ability without sacrificing the reader's immersion into a mythic, green world that is both rich and strange. Ruthig's collection is an excellent introduction to the work of a gifted and often forgotten poet....’

—Melissa Dalgleish, The Bull Calf

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The Essential Earle Birney
The Essential Earle Birney
selected by Jim Johnstone
ISBN 978-0-88984-373-8

‘The tropes that appear in Birney's poetry are both quietly political and overtly sincere, experimental and traditionally sound. It isn’t an easy feat for a poet to develop and change as he did, and if his work is to survive and be collected, it should be acknowledged as living.’

—Kenny Jakubas, Foreword Reviews

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The Essential Tom Marshall
The Essential Tom Marshall
selected by David Helwig and Michael Ondaatje
ISBN 978-0-88984-353-0

‘Over the two decades since Tom Marshall passed away, his poetry has become increasingly hard to find. The publication of The Essential Tom Marshall is a welcome corrective, restoring to us the poet's best work and also, in some ways, the man himself: psychic mariner, elemental lyricist, interpreter of the silences of fire, author of neglected small masterpieces.... ’

—Steven Heighton, author of Every Lost Country

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The Essential Robert Gibbs
The Essential Robert Gibbs
selected by Brian Bartlett
ISBN 978-0-88984-349-3

‘A prize-winning poet himself, Bartlett presents Gibbs as a metaphysical poet with earthy touches, with a ken for the dense, intense nature scrutiny of British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and as one who is kin to U.S.-U.K. egghead T.S. Eliot and homeboy bard Alden Nowlan.’

—George Elliott Clarke, The Chronicle Herald

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The Essential Richard Outram
The Essential Richard Outram
selected by Amanda Jernigan
ISBN 978-0-88984-338-7

‘In her selections from the late Ontario poet Richard Outram's more than 40-year career, Amanda Jernigan has crafted a mixtape of his poetry. Like any cherished mixtape, Jernigan's selection allows for her own expression while also leaving her recipient's own interpretation free to develop. ’

Telegraph-Journal

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The Essential Margaret Avison
The Essential Margaret Avison
selected by Robyn Sarah
ISBN 978-0-88984-333-2

‘Richly imagistic and occasionally colloquial, particularly in the later poems, echoes of Eliot's foe William Carlos Williams may also be heard.... One thing is certain, no matter the reader's religious persuasion, there are riches to be had for whoever devotes time to The Essential Margaret Avison.’

—Jennifer Sperry Steinorth, ForeWord Magazine

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The Essential James Reaney
The Essential James Reaney
selected by Brian Bartlett
ISBN 0-88984-319-8

‘Few would disagree, if pressed, that the word “essential” is overused. That's not the case with this book.... [T]he poems in this book, selected by Brian Bartlett, demonstrate a singular strength and vision that, but for the lack of a wider readership, almost certainly would have earned him a place as a widely known and respected 20th Century Canadian poet.’

—Dan Coffey, ForeWord Magazine

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The Essential Kenneth Leslie
The Essential Kenneth Leslie
selected by Zachariah Wells
ISBN 978-0-88984-328-8

The Essential Kenneth Leslie edited by Zachariah Wells, returns to us a unique and wily versifier who was a major element of Canadian poetry in the 1930s, but who is all but forgotten today.... It is good to have these poems back in print.’

—Paul Vermeersch, OpenBook Toronto

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The Essential P. K. Page
The Essential P. K. Page
selected by Arlene Lampert and Théa Gray
ISBN 0-88984-308-2

‘[The Essential P. K. Page is] a reprieve to hold in one's hand a compact 60 pages featuring the most memorable, most confounding, most rereadable poems written by Page, arranged alphabetically—each allowed its own space, unencumbered by time or category.’

—Anita Lahey, The Malahat Review

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The Essential Don Coles
The Essential Don Coles
selected by Robyn Sarah
ISBN 978-0-88984-312-7

The Essential Don Coles, with a perceptive foreword by Robyn Sarah, is an important book, in spite of its smallness.... I can not think of a better introduction to a poet who will be increasingly recognized as one of the best of our era.’

—M. Travis Lane, The Fiddlehead

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The Essential George Johnston
The Essential George Johnston
selected by Robyn Sarah
ISBN 978-0-88984-299-1

‘Robyn Sarah's The Essential George Johnston offers a first-rate introduction to Johnston's poems through a condensed and careful collection of finely-honed rhythms and images. These poems are traditional and original, crafted and self-consciously unstable. Expressing an epistemology of post-Einsteinian timelessness, the formal lines are subtle, truthful, and profound.’

—Monika Lee, Canadian Literature

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SUBMISSIONS TO THE SERIES

The Porcupine's Quill welcomes suggestions from editors who may want to recommend poets for inclusion in The Essential Poets Series.

Our policy is to be as accomodating as possible to all proposals, with the one caveat which is that we do NOT pay permissions fees. We DO pay an editorial honorarium, and we also pay a ten percent royalty on sales (often, to the Estate) but we do NOT pay permissions fees on work which is currently in print and readily available from another publisher.

FUTURE VOLUMES

Prospective editors should also be aware that we are committed to publishing Melissa Dalgleish's Jay Macpherson in the spring of 2017, and Jeffery Donaldson's John Reibetanz in the fall.

Other titles in various stages of preparation include Brian Bartlett's Dorothy Roberts, John Barton's Doug LePan, Ross Leckie's Alfred Bailey, Carmine Starnino's John Glassco and Charles Bruce, and Zach Wells' John Smith and George Whipple.

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.