CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Edited by Jack David and Robert Lecker.

Downsview (ON), ECW Press, c1983.
370pp, cloth, $42.00 (cloth), $26.00 (paper).
ISBN 0-920802-52-4 (cloth), 0-920802-54-0 (paper).

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Alan Thomas.

Volume 11 Number 6.
1983 November.

The ABCMA, as the publishers refer to this series of annotated bibliographies, has been providing a useful service to those engaged in Canadian studies since it began publication. It gives full primary bibliographic information and selected critical commentary, on the leading writers of this country, living and dead. The principles upon which "major" status is conferred might prove controversial; they are not discussed here, but few would quarrel with the choice of the four writers treated in this volume: Earle Birney, Dorothy Livesay, F.R. Scott, and A.J.M. Smith, figures of unquestionable prominence in modern Canadian poetry.

The ABCMA is well-designed on the page and substantially bound, sewn and using heavy paper. A sensible and flexible organization of entries accommodates a diversity of materials, including archival holdings of papers, all print publications and audiovisual materials (though no identification is made, in the Smith listing, of audio- and videotapes).

Necessarily, the heart of the work lies in the itemizing, dating, etc., of the poetry. Cross-referencing here works well in the tracing of poems from book publication back to their first appearance in periodicals (but there is no index of poems that would allow as easy a finding of poems first published in books).

The inclusion of a valuable index of critics indicates a deliberate emphasis on annotation drawn from critical commentary. Such annotation helps in discerning the general nature of critical thought. Here, newspaper reviews are included, and the annotations based on these, using excerpted phrases, are sometimes distinctly frothy, resembling publishers' blurbs. It must be said, if their seriousness is weakened, there exists a compensatory liveliness in the annotations that makes for good browsing, something unusual in the pages of a bibliography.

In its accessibility and in its thoroughness, this bibliography will be useful to students writing an essay and to scholars; it meets a real need in Canadian studies.

Alan Thomas, Scarborough College, University of Toronto, Scarborough, ON.
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