A Persevering Witness: The Poetry of Margaret Avison

By Elizabeth Davey
View profile for: Dr. Elizabeth Davey

Margaret Avison, one of Canada's premier poets, is a highly sophisticated and self-conscious writer, both charming and intimidating at the same time. She calls to mind her more famous predecessors--the religious poets George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and T. S. Eliot--as she vigorously engages both heart and intellect. "She has forged a way to write against the grain, some of the most humane, sweet and profound poetry of our time," write the judges of the 2003 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Becoming a Christian in her mid-forties, her life and her vocation were transformed and her lyrics record that shift. In "Muse of Danger," she writes to Christian college students, "But in His strange and marvelous mercy, God nonetheless lets the believer take a necessary place as a living witness in behavior with family and classmate and stranger, in conversation, or in a poem". How she blends her twin passions of poetry and Christian faith becomes a story of a kind of perseverance. Readers who respond with understanding and empathy recognize both the distinctive mystery of poetic witness and the mystery inherent in Christ's saving work to which it points. Her enduring witness becomes an implicit call for us to persevere in what Avison identifies as the "mix of resurrection life and marred everyday living".

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Publisher: Pickwick Publications
Year: 2016
ISBN/ISSN: 978-1-4982-2392-8

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