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George Benson Johnston Biography

(1913–2004), The Cruising Auk, Home Free, Happy Enough: Poems 1935–72

Canadian poet, born in Hamilton, Ontario, educated at the University of Toronto. Johnston is a comparative rarity among Canadian poets as a writer of comic verse. His apparently simple metres and traditional subjects often conceal layers of technical complexity and irony that are not always obvious on a first reading. His interest in middle-class suburban Canadian life has placed him outside the mainstream of contemporary Canadian poetry, but he has explored his chosen poetic terrain with considerable skill and perspicacity, frequently blending compassion with a sharp, satirical eye. His volumes of verse include The Cruising Auk (1959), Home Free (1966), Happy Enough: Poems 1935–72 (1972), Taking a Grip: Poems 1972–78 (1979), and Auk Redivivus (1981). A scholar of Old Norse, Johnston has also produced important translations of sagas and Rocky Shores (1981), a verse translation of work by modern Faroese poets.

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