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Dove Legend by Richard Outram  

Dove Legend is a pungent pot pourri for Outram readers. It binds together the shorter poem cycles, festive holiday broadsheets, occasional verses and love poems, and a number of highly disguised and thus revealing autobiographical pieces, all written over the past ten years (roughly since Outram’s retirement from stage production at the CBC). In a sense, these are only the decades leftovers. In the same span, we have been treated to a series of book-length poetry cycles, Hiram and Jenny, Mogul Recollected, and Benedict Abroad. A reader of Dove Legend cannot help but think of the book’s relationship to all the other work Outram has published in these same years, if not to his career in general. In short, to come across this ample inventory is to find yourself wondering, as others have before, why Outram isn’t better known than he is.’

Review quote

In quantum physics, ‘entanglement’ occurs when two paired sub-atomic particles collide and are sent careening through micro-space at unimaginable velocities; if a measurement is made on one of the two particles, the other, no matter how far removed, alters instantaneously. This ‘action at a distance’, which Einstein himself called ‘spooky’, occurs throughout Richard’s finest poems. Not every poem in Dove Legend realizes such ‘bright entanglement’, but when it occurs, the effect is magical: Myth and language collide only to become antiphonal in collision.

—Eric Ormsby

Review quote

‘Outram’s work demonstrates the truth of Pound’s claim that formal verse structure ‘‘exalts the reader, making him feel that he is in contact with something more finely arranged than the commonplace.’’ There is very little of the commonplace on any level in Dove Legend & Other Poems, a wonderful and wonderfully demanding book.’

—Robert Moore, Books in Canada

Review quote

‘Richard Outram’s Dove Legend is a complex assemblage of rare and invented nouns wired together with speech rhythms collected from a variety of dialects, discourses, and periods. At its best, Outram’s poetry moves rapidly between registers and modes and creates a vertiginous effect in which the ‘‘actual is abstract’’ and the ordinary is ornate. He fashions baroque complexities out of everything from philosophical musings to jive talk, Miltonic invocations to sea shanties. In the long poems ‘‘Tradecraft’’ and ‘‘Millefleur,’’ for example, Outram propels the narrative by continually changing the tonal register and toying with the reader’s expectations.’

—Canadian Literature

Review quote

‘Outram is never at any time anyone less than a poet armed and a poet prepared to prophesy.’

—Peter Sanger, The New Quarterly

Unpublished endorsement

‘Richard Outram is one of the finest poets in the English language.’

—Alberto Manguel


Outram was born in Canada in 1930. He was a graduate of the University of Toronto (English and Philosophy), and worked for many years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a stagehand crew leader. He wrote more than twenty books, four of these published by the Porcupine’s Quill (Man in Love [1985], Hiram and Jenny [1988], Mogul Recollected [1993], and Dove Legend [2001]). He won the City of Toronto Book Award in 1999 for his collection Benedict Abroad (St Thomas Poetry Series). His poetry is the subject of a significant work of literary criticism, Through Darkling Air: The Poetry of Richard Outram, by Peter Sanger (Gaspereau Press, 2010).

Richard Outram died in 2005.

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.

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POETRY / General

POETRY / Canadian

ISBN-13: 9780889842212

Publication Date: 2001-03-15

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.62 in

Pages: 184

Price: $14.95