Margaret Avison, winner of Canada’s highest literary honor, was captured by the “Light that blinded Saul”
Contemporary Christian poetry has found a new and arresting voice—that of Margaret Avison, long a free-lance writer and now an English teacher at the University of Toronto’s new Scarborough College, whose second book, The Dumbfounding, was brought out last summer by Norton (New York) and McLeod (Toronto).
There is nothing new about her remarkable ability as a poet. Her work has been acclaimed ever since she was a teen-ager, and she won the coveted Governor General’s Medal, Canada’s highest literary honor, for her first collection of poems, Winter Sun, published in 1960. What is new, however, and what gives her work much significance for the Christian student of contemporary art, is that just over four years ago Margaret Avison, then in her mid-forties, was overtaken by the
… Light that blinded Saul,
blacked out Damascus noon,
and became a Christian. Later she became an active member of the evangelical Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto, and she still manages to keep one afternoon a week free for work at a downtown rescue mission. The Dumbfounding makes her conversion known to the literary and intellectual world, in language they can appreciate. Thinking Christians would do well to become familiar with it.
The small group of specifically Christian poems near the center of this book, far from detracting from her previous stature as a poet, actually seem to have added to it. The internationally known critic and Canadian expatriate A. J. M. Smith, professor of English at Michigan State University since 1936, now poet-in-residence there, and the dean of contemporary anthologists, wrote an article on “Margaret Avison’s New Book” ...1
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