PQL Author of the Month: Margaret Avison

We’re trying something new here at the Porcupine’s Quill. We’ve published so many fantastic authors over the years, but the reality of book publishing is that we so often focus on brand new titles that the older ones necessarily fall by the wayside. In keeping, we’ll be honouring some of our backlist authors with our PQL Author of the Month blog series.

Today, we’re kicking off the series with a fitting honouree for National Poetry Month—Margaret Avison, whose centenary we will be celebrating on April 19 with the St. Thomas Poetry Series.


Margaret Avison was one of Canada’s most respected poets. She was born in Galt, Ontario, lived in Western Canada as a child, and then moved to Toronto. She had productive career that stretched back to the 1940s, during which she produced seven books of poems, including her first collection, Winter Sun (1960), which she assembled in Chicago while she was there on a Guggenheim Fellowship, and which won the Governor General’s Award. No Time (Lancelot Press), a work that focussed on her interest in spiritual discovery and moral and religious values, also won the Governor General’s Award for 1990. Avison’s published poetry up to 2002 was gathered into Always Now: the Collected Poems (Porcupine’s Quill, 2003), including Concrete and Wild Carrot which won the 2003 Griffin Prize. Her most recent book, Listening, Last Poems, was published in 2009 by McClelland & Stewart.

Margaret Avison was the recipient of many awards including the Order of Canada and three honorary doctorates.

‘Margaret Avison is a national treasure. For many decades she has forged a way to write, against the grain, some of the most humane, sweet and profound poetry of our time.’

—Griffin Prize Judges’ Citation

You can browse her work in the following six volumes published by the Porcupine’s Quill:


Read an Excerpt:

Why are we so
often not
any different? Oh there are
changes nobody tried to
make happen but on a
workaday level, never from
silence’s special
place where it’s as if
periwinkle faces play at
being zenith:

up, up so
mirror-silent the
glassy dimness shows the
one far flower, here, or
almost blindingly
aloft, as well.

(From The Essential Margaret Avison)

Find Out More About Margaret Avison on the Web


Don’t Forget!

The St Thomas Poetry Series

Join PQL and the St. Thomas Poetry Series in celebrating the centenary of Margaret Avison. The beloved poet would have been 100 years old on April 23. Join us for readings, reminiscences, and music!

Thursday, April 19, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Parish Hall, St. Thomas’s Church, 382 Huron St., Toronto, Ontario

Looking forward to seeing you there!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this very first PQL Author of the Month post. If you would like to see a particular author featured, or if you have some ideas as to what sorts of information you’d like to see in these posts, drop me a line at



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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.