The St. Thomas Poetry Series: “excellence in both poetry and design” (Jeffery Donaldson, University of Toronto Quarterly).

“these are exquisitely produced books, with each cover adorned with a hand-printed impression from remarkable wood engravings by Nancy Ruth Jackson” (Klay Dyer, Journal of Canadian Poetry).



Launch of W. J. Keith, Making Small Things Perfect: Selected Poems, ed. Allan Briesmaster will be offered on-line through Zoom at a time in October yet to be determined.


Launch of these two new books in the St. Thomas Poetry Series will be in November at a time to be determined.

Margo Swiss, Second Gaze

John Terpstra,  Wild Hope: Prayers and Poems






“Favourites and Requests”
On Saturday, 9 November 2019 at 7:30 in the parish hall three poets read their favourite religious poems and then read poems sent in for reading by audience members as their ‘favourites.’ Among the poets chosen were George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Peter Levi, Christian Wiman, Dennis Lee, Elizabeth Bishop, R. S. Thomas, and many others.
     Our readers were John Reibetanz, who is author of a dozen books of poetry, who has published widely in Canada and beyond, and who is now retired from the Dept. of English at Victoria College; John Porter of Hamilton, who has a special interest in Thomas Merton, who has written several books, and who is a frequent contributor to Hamilton literary publications; and Richard Greene, who directs the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto, whose Boxing the Compass (2009) received the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, and whose biography of Graham Greene is forthcoming next year.
                      We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and The League of Canadian Poets.




L to R: Richard Greene, John Reibetanz, John Porter









Launch of Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton’s Dance with the Feminine by Susan McCaslin (Langley, B.C.) and J. S. Porter (Hamilton, Ont.) on Saturday 6 April 2019.

Introduced by Bernie Lucht, CD, currently Visiting Professor at Ryerson University and formerly Executive Producer at CBC of “Ideas,” “Tapestry,” and the Massey Lectures.















L to R: John Porter, Susan McCaslin, Bernie Lucht








Thursday 19 April 2018: Celebrating the Centenary of Margaret Avison

 On 19 April 2018 in the parish hall, St. Thomas’s Church, 383 Huron Street, Toronto, we celebrated the centenary of Margaret Avison (1918-2018) with poetry, reflections, and music.

Jeffery Donaldson

bill bissett

Maureen Scott Harris

Robyn Sarah

Gordon Johnston

William Aide

Jill Jorgenson

Rev. Donald MacLeod

Porcupine’s Quill Press and Brick Books were present with many of Avison’s publications available for purchase.


Centenary cake
Joan Eichner, literary executor for Margaret Avison
L to R: Rev. Don MacLeod, Jeffery Donaldson, Gordon Johnston, David Kent, Maureen Scott-Harris, Jill Jorgenson, Robyn Sarah, bill bissett, William Aide


bill bissett reading























Launching of The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry (Wipf and Stock, 2016)

EDITED BY D. S. Martin


On 9 November 2017 in the parish hall
John Terpstra, Margo Swiss, Richard Greene, and D. S. Martin














John Terpstra, In the Company of All: Prayers from Sunday Mornings at St Cuthbert’s 



Launched 19 November 2016 at St. Thomas's Church
Launched 19 November 2016 at St. Thomas’s Church
John Terpstra with, to his right, Daniel Coleman who provided an introduction.
John Terpstra with, to his right, Daniel Coleman who provided an introduction.

















Poetry readings at St. Thomas’s Anglican Church, Huron Street, Toronto, began in 1988 in connection with the launch of the anthology Christian Poetry in Canada, ed. David A. Kent (ECW Press, 1989) and featured five poets: Robert Finch (his final public reading at age 89), John Reibetanz, Tim Lilburn, Maggie Helwig, and Margo Swiss. Spring and fall readings soon developed and then continued on a regular basis for several years. Many well-known Canadian poets visited during that time and afterwards, including James Reaney, Colleen Thibaudeau, J. M. Cameron, Anne Corkett, Joy Kogawa, George Johnston, Richard Greene, Alice Major, Barry Dempster, Gail Fox, Douglas Lochhead, Richard Outram, Susan McCaslin, and many more.

The Next Step

The publication series began in 1996 and was intended to draw increased attention to Christian poetry in Canada. As a result, the readings after that time were often connected with the launch of new books. These new books were not exclusively from our own series, as we were pleased to help launch, for example, some of John Terpstra’s publications with Gaspereau Press of Nova Scotia. In November 2008, in the 20th year of the series, John Robert Colombo, Barry Dempster, W. J. Keith, and John Terpstra were invited to help launch our twenty-fifth publication, Swim Class and Other Poems by George Whipple. In 2013 the 25th anniversary was celebrated with readings by John Reibetanz, Richard Greene, Bernadette Rule, Margo Swiss, Philip Gardner, Suzanne Collins, and John Terpstra. A special pamphlet was also published to mark the occasion: Poems for an Anniversary. A special reading to belatedly mark the centenary of George Johnston’s birth was held in 2014 and featured four poets, two of George’s sons, and Professor William Blissett. The centenary of Margaret Avison (1918-2007) was celebrated in April 2018 with eight readers participating.

Local Support

The poetry series has always identified itself with St. Thomas’s Anglican Church on Huron Street in Toronto. Both former rectors, Fr. Roy Hoult and Fr. Mark Andrews, have supported the series by allowing it to use the church and the hall for readings and receptions. There have been many loyal parishioners who have supported the series through their volunteer help, including antiquarian bookseller Hugh Anson-Cartwright (who suggested the elegant dimensions of the first books), professional editor Pat Kennedy, photographer Linda Russell, parish adminstrator Barb Obrai, Willem Hart, the late Bill Martin (who recorded many of the early readings), and John Meadows.

All the books may be seen in the display case at the rear of the church. If examined, you will see that the books also prominently feature the elegant logo that Alan Fleming designed for the parish centenary celebrations in 1974. It appears at the top of this page: a carpenter’s square with four spear tips.

Design and Production

The St. Thomas’s books are all printed on our neighbour’s presses, Coach House Printing, and its proprietor, Stan Bevington, has worked with Nancy Ruth Jackson to ensure the much admired design quality of the books.

With the sole exception of Benedict Abroad (whose cover was designed by Barbara Howard), the covers for books in The St. Thomas Poetry Series have been designed by Nancy, who now lives in Montreal after years living in New Jersey as a glass blower and before that many years working in the publishing industry in Toronto. The books have been produced at Coach House Press under the direction of Stan Bevington, and in several cases the covers were individually printed by Stan directly from Nancy’s wood engravings. Nancy’s designs moved away from engravings and toward repeating patterns on the covers with the McCaslin anthology of 2002. Her approach has recently undergone a further change with the Johnson and McCaslin books of 2014 and with Di Cicco’s Mystic Playground (2015).








The series is intended to be a non-profit venture, all proceeds from the sales of one book being used for the publication of the next one in the series. Generating income has always been a challenge, since poetry of any kind is not a popular genre and religious poetry is its least popular subset. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that all across Canada among readers of poetry there is now a strong association between The St. Thomas Poetry Series and poetry of high quality.


To access the website of St. Thomas’s Anglican Church, click here