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This report is taken from PN Review 83, Volume 18 Number 3, January - February 1992.

Letter From Canada: Old Heroes and Young Turks Roger Burford Mason
Earle Birney, who at 87 is one of our last links with the writers of the 20s and the 30s, and has been, for most of his professional life, Canada's only poet of truly international stature, as well-known in Nairobi as he is in New York, was incapacitated with a stroke a number of years ago, and has written nothing since.

At the time he was stricken, he was working on a new collection of poems which, under the sensitive editing of Marlene Kadar and Sam Solecki, has now been published.

Unlike Morley Callaghan, the other internationally-known Canadian writer of Birney's period, who kept his gl'nl'ration - the Paris, Berlin, New York axis of the 30s - alive by an unsvverving dedication to its themes and diction, Birney kept renewing himself, taking in, experimenting with, and leaving behind, concrete, op, pop and every other. trend as it arose. Indeed, the writer Douglas Fetherling remembers him in the mid-60s declaring that he had given up publishing poetry altogether, in favour of writing on balloons, which he released over the Pacific to fly to Japan, Hawaii or wherever in the Pacific Rim they might alight.

In Last Makings, (McClelland and Stewart, Toronto) Birney has drawn deeply on the memory of the things which have moved and made him - his childhood in the magnificent mountains around Banff, Alberta; travel and the experience of the world and its people; and his twenty-year relationship with Wailan Low, to whom ...


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