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Fred Cogswell Biography

(1917–2004), Fiddlehead, The Stunted Strong, Descent from Eden, Star-People, House without a Door

poetry brunswick canadian maritime

Canadian poet, born in East Centreville, New Brunswick, and educated at the Universities of New Brunswick and Edinburgh. He subsequently followed an academic career at the University of New Brunswick, where he edited the influential magazine Fiddlehead and founded Fiddlehead Books, both of which made enormous contributions to the development of Canadian Maritime writing. His first collection of poetry, The Stunted Strong, appeared in 1954. It was followed by Descent from Eden (1959), Star-People (1968), House without a Door (1973), and A Long Apprenticeship: Collected Poetry (1980). More recent works include Meditations: Fifty Sestinas (1987), An Edge to Life (1987), The Black and White Tapestry (1989), Watching an Eagle (1991), and In Praise of Old Music (1992). His best work is concerned with chronicling the lives of ordinary Maritime Province people in a pithy, ironic style and, like the work of Alden Nowlan, a writer whom he helped by introducing him to other poetry and poets, his verse has been compared with that of Edward Arlington Robinson. His accounts of ordinary lives are distinctly unpastoral lyrical ballads. While much of his poetry is written in traditional metrical forms, he also essayed a variety of modernist techniques. All his work, as creative writer and editor, is informed by a humane and eclectic stance. As a translator, he played an important part in helping to introduce Quebec poets to English-Canadian audiences.

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