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Margaret Avison (Margaret Kirkland Avison) Biography

(1918–2007), (Margaret Kirkland Avison), Winter Sun, The Dumbfounding, Sunblue, Selected Poems, History of Toronto

toronto poetry imagery

Canadian poet, born in Galt, Ontario, educated at the University of Toronto, where she began working in administrative capacities in 1945. In 1968 she joined the staff of an evangelical mission in Toronto. Winter Sun (1960), her first volume of poetry, was widely acclaimed for the assured suppleness with which she sustained imaginative interactions of factual detail and abstract meditation. The bleakness of post-war modernity was conveyed by the tone and imagery of numerous lyrical explorations of psychological and existential uncertainties. A less complex, though sometimes intimidatingly minimal idiom was apparent in The Dumbfounding (1966), the title poem of which affirmed her exalted acceptance of the Christian faith. Sunblue (1978) consolidated the devotional tendency of her verse. Much of her work is characterized by the vivid economy and clarity of its imagery, a resource she has termed the ‘optic heart’ of her poetry. Selected Poems appeared in 1991. Her other works include the prose study History of Toronto (1951) and the translations of modern Hungarian poetry in The Plough and the Pen (with Ilona Duczynska and Karl Polanyi, 1963).

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