Margaret Avison, poet, librarian, social worker (b in Galt [Cambridge], Ont 23 Apr 1918; d at Toronto 31 July 2007). Educated at Victoria College, University of Toronto, Margaret Avison began her career as a writer with a poem in the Canadian Poetry Magazine in 1939.
Margaret Avison, poet, librarian, social worker (b in Galt [Cambridge], Ont 23 Apr 1918; d at Toronto 31 July 2007). Educated at Victoria College, University of Toronto, Margaret Avison began her career as a writer with a poem in the Canadian Poetry Magazine in 1939. Her early poetry was also included in A.J.M. Smith's 1943 landmark anthology The Book of Canadian Poetry. She was a Guggenheim fellow in 1956. Avison has taught at Scarborough College, and did social work at the Presbyterian Church Mission in Toronto and many years of volunteer work for the Mustard Seed Mission. She studied creative writing at the universities of Indiana and Chicago, and was writer in residence at University of Western Ontario.
Avison's many publications include the middle school textbook History of Ontario (1951), a medical biography, a collaboration in translation from the Hungarian of The Plough and the Pen: Writings from Hungary 1930-1956 (1963), and a collection of her lectures titled A Kind of Perseverance (1994). It is for her richly dense and demanding poetry, however, that she was most well known and celebrated.
Maragaret Avison won the Governor General's Award for her first collection of poetry, Winter Sun (1960). With this work Avison established herself as a difficult and introspective poet given to private images and subtle shadings of emotion that challenge and frustrate the reader. These complexities in her writing conceal a deeply religious and vulnerable sensibility.
In 1966 Avison published The Dumbfounding, a more accessible record of spiritual discovery, and a more revealing account of the unmasked, narrative "I." This was further developed in Sunblue (1978), a combination of social concern and moral values fused by religious conviction and a continuing restatement of personal faith. She won her second Governor General's Award in 1990 for No Time. Her 2002 collection, Concrete and Wild Carrot, garnered Avison the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize. In addition to the three volumes of her collected works published in 2003, 2004, 2005, Avison brought out a collection of new poems in 2006, titled Momentary Dark.
Margaret Avison was an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was the recipient of the Leslie K. Tarr Award for her outstanding contribution to Christian writing and publishing in Canada.
E. Redekop, Margaret Avison (1970); David Kent, ed, Lighting Up The Terrain: The Poetry of Margaret Avison (1987).