6 X 9 inches, 72 pages
Penumbra Press Poetry Series, No. 12
THIS IS A BOOK OF SUBTLE MATURITY and confidence, yet touched by the humour and compassion of the questioning voice. Well known as a translator of Scandinavian literatures, George Johnston here advances his own remarkable poetic skills. The book is divided in three: Friends and Occasions records his fond memories of teaching at Carleton University, of students, mentors, and colleagues; Marriages, Births, Deaths plays with acrostics and other forms to pay homage to passages of family and friends; and Seasons and Meters traces his finely-observed relationships with the seasons.
Day after day wet
sky, wet snow, earth
to come through:
Stubble first, then
All the while brook
takes his walk
woodlot to woodlot
among his alders.
—"Come Through," Seasons and Meters
George Johnston was born in Hamilton, Ontario on October 7, 1913. He graduated from the University of Toronto (Victoria College) in 1936 with a B.A. in Philosophy and English. He served for four and a half years with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, as a general reconnaissance pilot in West Africa and as an instructor in the United Kingdom and Canada. In 1944 he married Jeanne McRae and in 1945 he graduated M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Toronto. He taught English and Old-Norse language and literature at Mount Allison University from 1947 to 1949 and then at Carleton University from 1950 to 1979, continuing on as Professor Emeritus.
To celebrate George's 85th birthday (October 7, 1998), Penumbra Press assembled the festschrift, The Old Enchanter (1999), in which over two dozen writers give testament to the quiet charisma and quick charm of the man—poet, translator, teacher, colleague, and friend.
A Party For a Poet, Winter 2000, Carleton U.