The Self-Completing Tree

Dorothy Livesay, First Edition
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For the launch of the book, Arsenal Pulp Press sponsored a series of readings across the country with well-known poets. In Vancouver, I was fortunate to hear Miriam Waddington, George Bowering, Kate Braid, and others recite the "new" Livesay poems, and it was fascinating to observe that they all chose different sets as their favourite.

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There is no doubt that future anthologists will need to consult this tome for their choices of her poems. Archive for our Times is also a handsomely designed volume. It includes a foreword by Miriam Waddington, an introductory poem by P. Page, an afterword by Di Brandt, and an editorial postscript by Dean J. The idea of also offering an index which explains briefly the provenance of each poem is a fine editorial decision, for it allows the poems to sit cleanly on the page without the messiness of an editorial apparatus.

The poems can be read as poems, and not as artefacts. In his comments, Irvine explains that the reason why Livesay left such an unusually rich archive of unpublished works was that she was in the habit of writing poems and then putting them away, gradually building up a reserve. Over the years, she continued to add to this reserve and select from it when she was publishing a new book. About this practice, Livesay herself commented that in the years leading up to the s, there were not many places for poets to publish; this meant that for every poem she published, there were many more that remained as a kind of hidden ground. For her later retrospectives, Livesay returned frequently to her archive. Even after the s when Canada developed its broad network of small and larger publishing houses, Livesay continued to write more than she published; Irvine estimates that Archive contains only about one-quarter of the total collection.

Irvine has grouped the poems chronologically, giving a section to each of the decades, beginning with the s and working up to the s. The latest is from , leaving nothing from then until Livesay's death in December Irvine has also had the happy idea of prefacing each decade with a photograph of Livesay from the period; the book thereby offers both new and old readers a path through her life as a poet.

Bibliography of Works about Dorothy Livesay

The most astonishing feature of the earliest poems in the s is Livesay's sure handling of the new modernist idiom. Perhaps this should come as no surprise, since Livesay published her first chapbook, Green Pitcher, in , but these fine modernist poems from the s remind us that not everything in modernism began with Ross or with A.

When I asked Frank Scott why he had not included Livesay in New Provinces of , the first anthology of Canadian modernist poetry, he spread his hands and said: "We simply didn't know her work at the time. This dynamic can sometimes be overlooked, especially in the poems from the s and s, in which she affirms the sacredness of the class struggle. For example, "Broadcast from Berlin" asserts, Eagles and mystic symbols have no place When men in every land together know As one together, understand The hammer's swing, the sickle's harvesting.

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Taken out of context, this political credo may well appear thin and naive; yet Livesay takes care to position her belief in ordinary working people within a vision of humanity that never is, but is always to be. Moreover, Livesay's affirmation of humanity's potential is generally included within a still larger frame, for she ties it to the seasonal cycles, the world continually renewing itself through a miraculous life force.

The Self-Completing Tree by Dorothy Livesay

Published December 16th by Dundurn first published January 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions 4. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Jan 27, Rebecca rated it it was amazing. I feel more alive, more human, more Woman, whenever I read any poem contained in this compilation. I hadn't thoroughly dissected and digested a book in this way since A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman. Dorothy Livesay will live on in my heart and soul, in the heart and soul of every forest, in the heart and soul of every creature that dares to live, and love.

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Oct 13, Alan rated it really liked it. Livesay's place in the Canadian Modernist cannon a place she would dispute is well earned. Her poetry is both simple and moving, and her dedication to leftist politics is impressive. I particularly like her use of children as mediators between that which is male and that which is female. Her transfiguration of the body is also unique: it often involves the melting or removal of skin, and -- while sounding gross -- is done with great beauty.

A great anthology. Jun 16, Sara rated it it was amazing. There is a definite focus on female concerns, but the poems go much further. There are commentaries on places and people Livesay knew or observed, and on events that caught her eye.

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She also says she hopes that this is the collection she will be remembered by. Oct 08, Angie Abdou rated it really liked it. See my review at www. Beth rated it really liked it Nov 28, Katherine rated it liked it Oct 13, Andrea rated it really liked it Jan 04, Alison Hedlund rated it it was amazing Mar 21, Elfofbooks rated it liked it Sep 27, Kaarina rated it it was amazing Mar 03, Carrie rated it it was amazing Feb 05, Kristina rated it it was amazing Jan 31, Laura rated it really liked it Dec 20, Garron rated it it was ok Dec 05, Shelley Motz rated it it was amazing Aug 11, Amanda added it Jan 29, Saunteringfiend marked it as to-read Sep 21, Urban Crow added it Jan 02, Euan added it Jan 07, Erin marked it as to-read Feb 15, Ian added it Jul 21, Diana added it Nov 05, Keighlagh added it Feb 07,