by George J. Dance

Fiddlehead Poetry Books was a Canadian book publisher based in New Brunswick, which produced "a series of poetry chapbooks especially hospitable to, but by no means limited to, young writers."[1]


Fiddlehead Books was founded in by Fred Cogswell and Al Tunis, academics at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Tunis, a member of the Sociology Department, had been editor of the McGill Daily in 1947-48, and was a frequent reader of poetry on CBC radio. Cogswell, a professor of English, had become editor of The Fiddlehead poetry magazine, published by UNB, in 1953. The two convinced UNB to provide office space and start-up funds, and produced the first volume, Cogswell's The Stunted Strong, in 1954.[2]

Cogswell and Tunis ran Fiddlehead Poetry Books, with help from fellow UNB professor Desmond Pacey, until 1959. In that year, Cogswell took a leave of absence from UNB, and the university collapsed Fiddlehead's funding and reallocated its resources. To preserved the company, Cogswell convinced UNB to turn it over to him. He ran Fiddlehead for as a private company for the next 22 years.[2]

During Cogswell's tenure he published many poets, including Al Purdy, Alden Nowlan, Dorothy Livesay, Norman Levine, and Joy Kogawa, who would go on to become some of the best-known Canadian poets of the 1960s and 1970s. All told, Fiddlehead published 307 books of poetry over 24 years; 44 of them in one year (1973) alone.[2]

Retiring in 1981, Cogswell sold the company for $1 to his English Departement colleague Peter Thomas,[2] who changed the name to Goose Lane Editions, under which name the firm still operates today.


The Canadian Encyclopedia says that Cogswell "has national importance as founder and long-time proprietor of Fiddlehead Books."[1] George Woodcock credited him with creading "“a literary ambiance ... of a kind that had never existed in this country before”. Gwendolyn Davies wrote that "few other Canadian publishers have produced the number of poetry books or attracted the same caliber of writer as Fiddlehead." Professor Tony Tremblay called Cogswell "both the friend and mentor of an entire generation of Canadian poets."[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 [Doug Fetherling, "Fred Cogswell," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton, AB: Hurtig, 1981), 454. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "The Fiddlehead and Fiddlehead Poetry Books, in Tremblay, Tony, ed. Fred Cogswell: The Many-Dimensioned Self. Fredericton: New Brunswick Studies Centre (STU) and Electronic Text Centre (UNB), 2012. Web, May 20, 2013.

External linksEdit

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