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Jay Macpherson (Jay Jean Macpherson) Biography

(1931– ), (Jay Jean Macpherson), Nineteen Poems, O Earth Return, The Boatman, Welcoming Disaster, Poems Twice Told

poems disaster press collection

Canadian poet, born in London; from 1940 onward she grew up in Canada, principally in Ottawa. She was educated at McGill University and at the University of Toronto, where she became Professor of English at Victoria College in 1974. The contents of Nineteen Poems (1952), published by Robert Graves's Seizin Press, and O Earth Return (1954), issued by Emblem Books, Macpherson's own small press (see small presses), were incorporated into The Boatman (1957; expanded 1968) which gained her a considerable reputation. Dedicated to Northrop Frye and his wife, the collection reflects Frye's emphasis on the mythic and archetypal properties of poetry. Macpherson's other major collection, Welcoming Disaster (1974), employs more complex forms to pursue its quest for meaning; the poems frequently succeed in maintaining imaginative contact with social reality while extending Macpherson's essential concern with psychological and metaphysical conditions. The Boatman and Welcoming Disaster were reissued together as Poems Twice Told (1981). Her other works include Four Ages of Man (1962), adaptations of classical myths for younger readers; and The Spirit of Solitude (1982), a highly regarded study of the elegiac and pastoral traditions from the seventeenth century onward.

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