A Serious Call

Front Cover
The Porcupine's Quill, Mar 27, 2015 - Poetry - 64 pages

In A Serious Call, Governor General’s Award-winner Don Coles presents a collection of moments suspended in time: a line of poetry, forgotten for years and remembered as often; a photograph cut out of a 1942 newspaper that saves its subjects not from death but from oblivion; a fond memory of a bookshop in Southwark, where books feed a love of literature and a life-long friendship. In a deceptively plainspoken style enhanced by his signature precision, Coles’s contemplation of everyday moments and objects reveals not only the power of memory, but also the innermost fears and longings of the human spirit.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

poem
11
A Tender Tale
26
Notes
55
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2015)

Don Coles was born on April 12, 1927, in the town of Woodstock, Ontario.

Coles entered Victoria College at the University of Toronto in 1945. He did a four-year history degree, then a two-year M.A. in English, spending two undergraduate summers in Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, learning French, and one summer travelling in Europe. He had several courses with Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, whom he recalls as the best teachers of his life. In between the two M.A. years, he spent a year in London working in a bookstore, then enrolled at Cambridge from 1952 to 1954, and upon graduating was awarded a British Council grant to live in Florence for a year. It was in Stockholm that he met Heidi Golnitz of Lubeck, Germany, whom he eventually married; they lived in Copenhagen and Switzerland before coming to Canada with their daughter in 1965—supposedly for a visit, but they stayed.

It was only around 1967, in tandem with teaching, that Coles began writing poems. His first collection appeared in 1975 when he was forty-seven. It was followed quietly by several others, but he resisted becoming a public poet-persona. He was sixty-five when Forests of the Medieval World won Canada’s premier literary award. As a poet, Coles has always marched to his own drummer. He was never enamoured of the modernist poets, looking instead to what he has termed the ’Hardy-Larkin line’, those who were able to move their art back towards accessibility and the general reader. Besides his ten poetry collections, Coles has, since retirement, published a novel and a collection of essays and reviews, and translated a collection by the late Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.

Coles resides in Toronto, but has lived close to twenty years in western Europe, with sojourns in Munich, Hamburg, and Zurich besides cities already mentioned. A deeply private man, he lists family first among his pleasures.

Bibliographic information