by George J. Dance

Fred Cogswell

Fred Cogswell (1917-2004). Courtesy Goose Lane Editions.

Fred Cogswell
Born Frederick William Cogswell
November 8, 1917
East Centreville, New Brunswick
Died June 20, 2004 (aged 87)
Occupation professor of English
Nationality Canada Canadian
Education Ph.D.
Alma mater U of New Brunswick, Edinburgh U
Notable award(s) Order of Canada

Frederick William Cogswell, CM (November 8, 1917 - June 20, 2004) was a Canadian poet and academic.



Cogswell was a significant contributor to the literature of Atlantic Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia called him "an important figure in maintaining the region's distinctive poetic tradition, both as a teacher and as editor of The Fiddlehead" poetry magazine, adding that he "also has national importance as founder and long-time proprietor of Fiddlehead Books."[1]

Youth and educationEdit

Cogswell was born and raised in East Centreville, New Brunswick.[2]

He served with the Canadian Army during the World War II from 1940 to 1945.[2]

After the war, he gained a B.A. (Honors) and M.A. at the University of New Brunswick (UNB), and then a Ph.D. from Edinburgh University.[3]


In 1952 Cogswell became a professor of English at UNB, a postion he would hold until 1983. Also in 1952 he founded The Fiddlehead as a literary magazine, and served as its editor until 1966.[3] The Fiddlehead had begun in 1945 as the mimeographed record of the UNB's Bliss Carman Society, under the editorship of Alfred Bailey.[4] Under Cogswell's editorship the magazine "was converted to an international magazine of poetry and issued in a printed format.... it became a quarterly, added a book review section, undertook to publish prose fiction, and established a reputation for eclecticism."[5]


Courtesy Goose Lane Editions.

In 1954 Cogswell began publishing a series of chapbooks called Fiddlehead Poetry Books,[6] which were "meant as a series of poetry chapbooks especially hospitable to, but by no means limited to, young writers."[1] Through Fiddlehead Books, Cogswell was responsible for the publication of more than 300 books of poetry.[7] Alden Nowlan and Al Purdy were 2 of the young poets who got their start with the series.[6] (Fiddlehead Poetry Books was still operating in the 2010's, under the name Goose Lane Editions.)[8]

Cogswell was also the founding president of the Writers Federation of New Brunswick.[3]

Cogswell was also a prolific translator of French Canadian poetry, publishing One Hundred Poems of Modern Quebec in 1970,[1], and following that with One Hundred More Poems of Modern Quebec in 1971 and The Poetry of Modern Quebec in 1976.[2] He was the first to translate poetry of Émile Nelligan into English.[8]


Cogswell published 24 books or chapbooks of original poetry, a poetry that the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature called "characterized by compression, wit, the use of a wide variety of both traditional and modern forms, and a gentle, ironic view of the world."[2] It has also been described as "characterized by adherence to old conventions, a love of craftsmanship and an unhurried, lightly ironic tone."[1]

The Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) says that Cogswell's "own work as a poet has earned him a place in contemporary poetry circles, while his translations of French-Canadian verse have helped to bridge the gap between the two main language groups in the country." The DLB also notes Cogswell's scholarly writing: "He has written extensively on Canadian literature ... and he has been effective in developing an overview of Atlantic Canada's literary-cultural life in the nineteenth century."[7]


Cogswell was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1981.[2] Other awards and honors that he has won include:

  • Bliss Carman Award for Poetry, 1945, 1947.
  • Professor Emeritus, UNB, 1983.[2]
  • L.L.D., St. Francis Xavier University, 1983.
  • D.C.L., University of King's College, 1985.
  • L.L.D., Mount Allison University, 1988.
  • Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in Literary Arts, New Brunswick Government, 1995.
  • Medal for 125th Anniversary of Canada, 1997.

Cogswell was honored in 1980 by the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia with Scroll, a book of poems written in his honor by 49 Canadian poets.*[2]


Poetry Edit

  • The Stunted Strong. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1954.
  • The Haloed Tree. Toronto: Ryerson, 1956.
  • Descent from Eden. Toronto: Ryerson, 1959.
  • Lost Dimension. Dulwich Village, England, UK: [Outpost] College Press, 1960.
  • Five New Brunswick Poets (Elizabeth Brewster, Fred Cogswell, Robert Gibbs, Alden Nowlan, Kay Smith). Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1962.[9]
  • Star-People. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1968.
  • Immortal Plowman. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1969.
  • In Praise of Chastity. Fredericton, NB: University of New Brunswick (New Brunswick Chapbooks # 12), 1970.
  • The Chains of Liliput. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1971.
  • The House Without a Door. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1973.
  • Light Bird of Life: Selected poems (edited by Peter Thomas). Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1974.
  • Against Perspective. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1977.
  • A Long Apprenticeship: Collected poems. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1980.
  • Scroll (compiled by Gregory M. Cook). Wolfville, NS: Wombat Press, 1980.
  • Our Stubborn Strength. Toronto: League of Canadian Poets, 1980.
  • Pearls. Charlottetown, PEI: Ragweed, 1983.
  • Selected Poems (edited by Antonio D’Alfonso). Montreal: Guernica Editions, 1983.
  • Meditations: 50 Sestinas. Charlottetown, PEI: Ragweed, 1986.
  • An Edge to Life. Saint John, NB: Purple Wednesday Society, 1987.
  • The Best Notes Merge. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1988.
  • Black and White Tapestry. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1989.
  • Watching an Eagle. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1991.
  • When the Right Light Shines. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1992.
  • In Praise of Old Music. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1992.
  • In My Own Growing. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1993.
  • As I See It. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1994.
  • The Trouble With Light. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1996.
  • Folds. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1997.
  • A Double Question. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 1999.
  • With Vision Added. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 2000.
  • Deeper Than Mind. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 2001.
  • Dried Flowers. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 2002.
  • Ghosts. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 2002.
  • Later in Chicago. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 2003.
  • The Kindness of Stars. Nepean, ON: Borealis, 2004.


  • One Hundred Poems of Modern Quebec. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Press, 1970.
  • A Second Hundred Poems of Modern Quebec (edited and translated by Fred Cogswell). Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1971.
  • Lapointe, Gatien, Confrontation = Face à face (translated by Fred Cogswell). Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1973.
  • The Poetry of Modern Quebec: An anthology (edited and translated by Fred Cogswell). Montreal: Harvest House, 1976.
  • Nelligan, Émile, The Complete Poems of Emile Nelligan (translated and introduction by Fred Cogswell). Montreal: Harvest House, 1983.
  • Unfinished Dreams: Contemporary Poetry of Acadie (edited and translated by Fred Cogswell and Jo-Anne Elder). Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane, 1990.
  • Chiasson, Herménégilde, Climates (translated by Jo-Anne Elder and Fred Cogswell). Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane, 1999.
  • Chiasson, Herménégilde, Conversations (translated by Jo-Anne Elder and Fred Cogswell). Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane, 2001.


  • Arts in New Brunswick (edited by R.A. Tweedie, Fred Cogswell, & W. Stewart MacNutt). Fredericton, NB: Brunswick Press, 1967.
  • The Atlantic Anthology. Charlottetown, PI: Ragweed.
    • Volume 1: Prose. 1984.
      The Ballad of John Armstrong - Fred Cogswell © 1980 - Tony Antonias narration

      The Ballad of John Armstrong - Fred Cogswell © 1980 - Tony Antonias narration

    • Volume 2: Poetry. 1985.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia.[10]

See alsoEdit

Fred Cogswell Tribute - Candice James, Poet Laureate

Fred Cogswell Tribute - Candice James, Poet Laureate


  • Williamson, Margie. Four Maritime Poets: a survey of the works of Alden Nowlan, Fred Cogswell, Raymond Fraser and Al Pittman, as they reflect the spirit and culture of the Maritime people. Thesis (M.A.), Dalhousie University, 1973.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Doug Fetherling, "Cogswell, Fred," Canadian Encyclopedia, Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988, 454. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Fred Cogswell, Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature,, Web, June 30, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Memorial Service to Be Held for Fred Cogswell," UNB Fredericton News Release: D034, Sept. 1, 2004, Web, June 14, 2011.
  4. The Fiddlehead,, Web, May 5, 2011.
  5. Fred Cogswell, "The Fiddlehead," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 762. Print.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Michael Gnarowski, "Poetry in English 1918-1960," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 1696-1697. Print.
  7. 7.0 7.1 " Fred(erick) (William) Cogswell biography," Dictionary of Literary Biography,, Web, June 14, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Featured: Fred Cogswell," Welcome to Ronald P. Frye, Ronald P. Frye, Web, June 19, 2011.
  9. Greg Cook, Selected Bibliography of Works by Alden Nowlan, English-Canadian Writers, Centre for Language and Literature, Athabasca University,, Web, June 9, 2012.
  10. Frederick William Cogswell, New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia, University of St. Thomas, Web, Dec. 4, 2012.

External linksEdit

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