Spotlight On: Don Coles


This week, in honour of the publication of his new book A Serious Call, we’re honoring award-winning author Don Coles.

Who is Don Coles?

  • A Toronto-based poet and novelist.
  • He published his first book of poetry at age 47.
  • He spent ten years as Senior Poetry Editor at the Banff Centre for the Arts
  • His claim to fame is his award-winning poetry: Forests of the Medieval World won the Governor General’s Award in 1993, and Kurgan won the Trillium Book Award in 2000.
  • He was never a fan of the modernist poets, preferring instead to look to what he has termed the ‘Hardy-Larkin line’—referring to those poets able to make their work accessible to the general reader.

What has he worked on?

What are people saying about him?

  • “All those things which we require of poetry—intelligence, illumination, pleasure in the placing of one surprising word beside another, sudden unexpected deepenings, and moments when a line is taken almost, but not quite, to the point of fragmentation—all these are present in Don Coles.” —Carol Shields
  • “I can think of few things better than a comfortable chair, several free hours, and a new collection of Don Coles’ poetry. The expectation and ultimate fulfillment, the challenges, demands, delights and rewards, are, for me, both different and more satisfying than those provided by the work of any other poet now writing in Canada.” —Christopher Wiseman, Malahat Review
  • “Coles’ art is all deftness and understatement, never trying too hard, no flourishes till the end” —Richard Sanger, Globe & Mail

Where can I read more of his work?

What should I read next?

  • Leon Rooke’s poetry in The April Poems has a similar wit and casual flair.
  • Read more top poetry (as chosen by Publisher Tim Inkster) here.

Where can I get general information about Don Coles?


portraitA Serious Call is available now, and let me tell you, it is fabulous. Coles somehow allows you to escape your consciousness while simultaneously helping you to better understand it.

Happy Reading!sig

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.