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List of English-language poets

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Canadian poetry in French and Canadian poetry in English can be called (using Hugh MacLennan's term) "Two Solitudes." Like their respective cultures, they have evolved separately from and with little influence on each other. Pierre Chauveau, the first Premier of the province of Québec, compared the separation of the French and English cultures in Canada to the famous double staircase of the Château de Chambord, that was built to allow two persons to climb it without meeting and even without seeing each other except at intervals: "English and French, we climb by a double flight of stairs toward the destinies reserved for us on this continent, without knowing each other, without meeting each other, except on the landing of politics."[1]

Early verseEdit

The first book written in verse by a Canadian was Épîtres, Satires, Chansons, Épigrammes et Autres Pièces de vers by Michel Bibaud, published in 1830.

Mouvement littéraireEdit

A group of French speaking poets and authors belonging to the Mouvement littéraire came to Ottawa from Quebec City when the civil service moved to Ottawa in 1870. This group included Alfred Garneau, Antoine Gerin-Lajoie, Achilles Frechette and others. They are considered some of the most important poets and writers in 19th Century French Canada.

End of 19th centuryEdit

Octave Crémazie is considered the father of French Canadian poetry. His poetry and that of his follower Louis Fréchette are romantic of form and patriotic in inspiration. At the same time, Pamphile Le May was writing intimist poetry about the simple farm life and Alfred Garneau wrote his feelings.

The Montreal SchoolEdit

L'École littéraire de Montréal was not a literary school but a group of poets that met regularly. In reaction to the earlier following of the romantic Victor Hugo, they took later schools (such as the Parnassian or symbolism) as their masters. The most talented among them was certainly Émile Nelligan, a young poet who stopped writing at only 20 years of age due to mental illness.

The terroirEdit

Outside Montreal, other poets, such as Nérée Beauchemin continued Pamphile Le May's depiction of the life of the habitants. Then came the powerful Alfred Desrochers, a precursor to the "pays" school of poetry of Gaston Miron and John Paul Ambas.

In 1937 Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau published the first book of modernist poetry in French Canada, Regards et Jeux dans l'espace. Garneau's reputation would soar in the 1950s, after publication of his Complete Poems (1949), as would that of his cousin, poet Anne Hébert.

21st centuryEdit

Ophelie a poetess of the twenty first century writes in a highly sensual way. Her poetry is different to the older intellectual type poetry. Ophelie reverses the "new poetry " slogan [inspired by A.J.M. Smith and F.R. Scott in the 1930s] and values sensuality over intellect, emotions over logic. Ophelie's poetry is lyrical with brilliant images and emotive to the extreme -as exemplified in her poem COMME MORT MAIS ÉVEILLÉS

See alsoEdit




  1. D. Louder, "Quebec, Canada and la francophonie ," Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs in Lethbridge, Alberta, Dec. 11, 1997., Web, July 5, 2011.

External linksEdit

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