Whetting the Appetite

A recent post by Ronna Bloom announcing her new book A Possible Trust drew my eye to the Laurier Poetry Series, since 2005 an imprint of Wilfrid Laurier University Press. The Series is distinctive for its aim to give college and university students and a general readership what LPS General Editor Tanis MacDonald describes as “more poetry in their poetry”. These slender, handsomely produced books are meant to “alert readers to poems that remain vital to thinking about urgencies of the contemporary moment” while also “bringing poems from out-of-print collections back into the public eye and the public discourse.” Each book contains roughly 35 selections from across the poet’s body of work, introduced by a critical appraisal.

The afterword, especially by a living poet, is a feature I am particularly interested in for comparison, to see how it expands on or casts a wholly different light on both the appraisal and the poems themselves. As well as these two differing perspectives, a third, the student readers’ own thinking about the selections, opens the way for even more lively classroom discussion.

The series has been favourably received, witness Paul Milton’s comment in Canadian Literature: “these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming.” In turn, having their work chosen for college or university study must be a welcome validation for the poets of their dedication to the art, and no doubt much appreciated. In the Journal of Canadian Poetry, Paul W. Harland praised the series for an even broader reason, “providing an excellent model for keeping interest in Canada’s contemporary poets alive”—a noble endeavour indeed.

To discover the books published to date in the Laurier Poetry Series, visit https://www.wlupress.wlu.ca/Series/L/Laurier-Poetry