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INDEX TO CANADIAN POETRY IN ENGLISH.

Toronto, Reference Press, c1984. 367pp, cloth, $30.00, ISBN 0-919981-02-X. CIP Distributed by Reference Pnss, Box 1141, Station F, Toronto, Ont., M4Y 2T8.

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by P.J. Hammel

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July


In the preface of this work, Gordon Ripley claims that it "follows closely the format of the seventh edition of Granger's Index to Poetry. Thus, the searcher need not become familiar with a new system. Ripley further claims that this work indexes "about seven thousand poems in fifty-one collections." I would not debate the number of poems, but only fifty collections are listed in the "Key to Symbols." He further claims that included are poems "representative of English Canadian verse during the past two centuries and ... a fair sample of French Canadian poetry in translation" in "a broad array of anthologies, particularly those anthologies one might expect to find on the shelves of public libraries in Canada and the United States." Approximately four hundred French Canadian poems are included. The anthologies (forty-three of which were published between 1960 and 1984, and the earliest in 1921) include survey collections, French Canadian, children's poetry, Inuit and Indian poetry, humorous poetry and poetry by women. A reasonable goal, reasonably well achieved.

The main part of the work, "Title and First Line Index," "Author Index," and "Subject Index," although following Granger's in format and sequence, does differ somewhat. The title and first line sequence begins with titles whose first element is a symbol, e.g., "& yesterday when first I touched" and ". . . the seventeen-year old." These are followed by those titles beginning with numbers, in numerical order, e.g., "1. Not having you," "2 plumbers came today," "3 a.m. on the floor mattress"; then follows the main alphabetical listing. Although this arrangement differs from Granger's, it is acceptable current indexing practice. The most significant difference, however, appears in the terminology of the "Subject Index." Some examples are as follows: "Adultery" (Canadian) for "Infidelity" (Granger's), "Artists and Art" (Canadian) for "Art and Artists" (Granger's), "Doctors" (Canadian) for "Physicians" (Granger's), "Insanity" (Canadian) for "Madness" (Granger's) and "Mental Illness" (Granger's), "Mountains" (Canadian) for "Hills and Mountains" (Granger's). In spite of the disclaimer that no standard classification scheme was used and that the subject index will be used most often by public librarians, and in spite of the fact that cross-references mitigate somewhat these differences, more similarity, except, obviously for specifically Canadian headings, would have made this list easier to use.

Nonetheless, this work will become a Canadian standard, if only temporarily. The publisher's intention to do "a complete retrospective indexing of Canadian anthologies in a second edition in about five years" means that this edition will be the Canadian poetry index until the complete work appears. At the same time, it will also provide a good retrospective base to complement Canadian Essay and Literature Index which indexes only those poems in anthologies and magazines published in the current year. Finally, although directed at the small public library, it will also serve a significant role in the school library. Students, teachers and teacher-librarians searching for sources of Canadian poetry by individual authors, or poems on a specific subject/ theme will find this a useful work.


P.J. Hammel, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Sask.
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