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Canada Reads Poetry: Selected Poems by Alden Nowlan

Selected Poems by Alden Nowlan

Canada Reads Poetry is a three-week online initiative presented by CBC Books and the National Post. Inspired by the original Canada Reads format, Canada Reads Poetry features five panelists defending five collections of poetry. That's where the similarities end; while Canada Reads plays out on-air, Canada Reads Poetry plays out online.

Over the next two weeks, CBC Books will look at the collections chosen by our esteemed panel for Canada Reads Poetry and the poets who wrote them. The National Post will be publishing the defences written by the panelists. Earlier this week, we looked at forage by Rita Wong, being defended by Sonnet L'Abbé. Today, we turn to Selected Poems by Alden Nowlan, edited by Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier, and chosen by Susan Musgrave.

Selected Poems is a "best of" collection by Alden Nowlan, designed to highlight his direct, unpretentious style and his wry observations about the world and everyday life. Alden Nowlan died in 1983, but his work is still widely known and loved across Canada. If you haven't read Alden Nowlan's work before, Selected Poems is a great place to start.

Below, you can listen to Shelagh Rogers, host of The Next Chapter, read "Fair Warning," by Alden Nowlan, which is included in Selected Poems. "Fair Warning" gently makes fun of the fact that poetry is not taken very seriously.



Alden NowlanAlden Nowlan was born to a poor family in rural Nova Scotia, along a stretch of road that he would later call Desolation Creek. His mother was only 15 when he was born and soon left him and his sister to be raised by their paternal grandmother. Nowlan left school after grade four and went to work at the local sawmill at 14. It wasn't until he discovered the local library at the age of 16 that he developed a love for books and writing that would lead to his career as a newspaper reporter and poet.

One of Canada's best-loved poets of the 20th century, Nowlan is known for his personable, unaffected poetic voice and the regional sensibility that shines through his work.

Nowlan was awarded the Governor General's Award for Poetry in 1967. In addition to his work at a poet, he was also a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright. New Brunswick has named a provincial poetry award in his honour.


Tomorrow, we'll talk to Patrick Lane, one of the editors behind Selected Poems.

But you don't need to wait until then to get another Alden Nowlan fix. The National Post's books blog, The Afterword, features an essay by Susan Musgrave about why she chose Selected Poems by Alden Nowlan for Canada Reads Poetry.

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