Raymond Souster (Holmes Raymond Souster) Biography
(1921– ), (Holmes Raymond Souster), Direction, Contact, Combustion, Shake Hands with the Hangman: Poems 1940–1952
Canadian poet, born in Toronto, where he was educated at the Humberside Collegiate Institute; he worked in a Toronto bank from 1939 until his retirement in 1984. While serving in Nova Scotia with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, he began the magazine Direction (1943–6), which was succeeded by Contact (1952–4) and Combustion (1957–60). Shake Hands with the Hangman: Poems 1940–1952 (1953) indicates his early tendency towards the lyrical and thematic conventions of Romanticism. His subsequent writing reflects his admiration for the work of William Carlos Williams in its conversational freeverse forms and rich use of concrete imagery drawn from his urban surroundings in Toronto. Although many of his poems are of substantial length and thematic range, he is best known for the many witty and compassionate shorter works which cumulatively form a densely textured treatment of the city's social character. His numerous collections include Crepe-Hanger's Carnival (1958), Ten Elephants on Yonge Street (1965), Change-Up (1974), Jubilee of Death: The Raid on Dieppe (1984), Asking for More (1988), and Running Out the Clock (1991). Collected Poems 1940–1989 appeared in six volumes between 1980 and 1989. The Winter of the Time (as ‘Raymond Holmes’, 1949) and On Target (as ‘John Holmes’, 1973) are novels drawing on his wartime experiences.