THE ST. THOMAS POETRY SERIES
The St. Thomas Poetry Series: “excellence in both poetry and design” (Jeffery Donaldson, University of Toronto Quarterly).
Of the first fifteen books: “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).
NOW PUBLISHED from THE ST. THOMAS POETRY SERIES
David Waltner-Toews, The Gravity of Love
David Waltner-Toews has published more than twenty books, including poetry, fiction and popular science. His most recent works include A Conspiracy of Chickens (Wolsak & Wynn, 2022) and On Pandemics: From Bubonic Plague to Coronavirus (Greystone, 2020). His work has been translated into German, French, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic. He is an Officer in the Order of Canada, which cited him “for his leadership and expertise in ecosystem approaches to health, and for supporting development worldwide.” His previous books of poetry include The Fat Lady Struck Dumb (Brick Books, 2000) and The Impossible Uprooting (McClelland & Stewart, 1995).
Order by emailing David Kent: email@example.com.
Payments may be made by E-transfer, Paypal, or cheque. (Cheques should be made payable to David Kent and mailed to St. Thomas’s Church, 383 Huron Street, Toronto ON M5S 2G3.)
The cost is $20 per copy plus shipping costs, usually $5 for a single copy in Canada.
Launched on Saturday, November 18 at 7:30 pm at St. Thomas’s Church, together with Alice Major of Edmonton. Details below.
In this boldly textured portrait of “life’s wondrous ache,” David Waltner-Toews offers his reader an exploration – at once urgent and lyrical – of the complicated connections among all living things. A veterinary epidemiologist whose profound commitment to ecosystem health has taken him many times around the world’s “furrowed brow,” Waltner-Toews provides, alongside a compelling meditation on how we lost the earth, a celebration of “the fierce desire” of life itself. “Sing to me of what is lost,” the poet urges, while expressing – in mesmerizing cadences – gratitude for beauty and grace. (Hildi Froese Tiessen, Conrad Grebel UC)
The Gravity of Lovespans history, species, and the cosmos in pursuit of what it means to create and connect, to be of use and to be whole. David Waltner-Toews draws on an array of allusions from Darwin to Milton to Whitman as he considers what humans, we “scatterlings / and word scavengers,” might say in the face of “epidemics, ecological collapse, the end of the world.” Irreverently and tenderly, this collection tips us “topsy-turvy / into the toppled world’s embrace” with poems that insist, again and again: “I am here.” (Sarah Ens, The World Is Mostly Sky and Flyway)
The St. Thomas Poetry Series: Poetry Reading and Book Launch
Waltner-Toews was introduced by Hildi Froese Tiessen (retired from Conrad Grebel UC, University of Waterloo), pioneering scholar of Mennonite literature in Canada.
Alice Major of Edmonton also read and her new book Knife on Stone (Turnstone Press) received its Toronto launch. Alice has published twelve collections of poetry, was Edmonton’s first poet laureate (2005-07) and is a Past President of the League of Canadian Poets and Past President of the Writers Guild of Alberta. Her early years were in Scotland near Glasgow. After her family came to Canada when she was eight years of age, she lived in Toronto and later went west to work as a reporter in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She has been an active supporter of the arts and writing community, and she has received many awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta. Alice was introduced by poet and publisher (Aeolus House) Allan Briesmaster.
Here is the link to the live-streaming of the launch on YouTube:
Published in April 2023:
Bruce Meyer, Church Grammar
To order, use Contact form (see Menu above) to be in contact and choose E-transfer or Paypal for payment.
OR mail a cheque to the series at 383 Huron St., Toronto ON M5S 2G5
$20 + postage ($5 in Canada)
In measured lines, these thoughtful, evocative poems trace the growth of a soul. They contemplate the intersections of country roads with art and mortality. The poems are cups overflowing with wisdom and the insight that ‘every moment of my life has been / a summons to this moment here.’ (ALICE MAJOR)
This latest book of poetry by Canadian master Bruce Meyer is one of his very best in a long and successful writing career. In fact, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was reading his definitive Selected; it’s that good. In Church Grammar Meyer is operating at the height of his powers. In a manner evocative of Seamus Heaney’s Seeing Things, here is Meyer ‘decades later, / reminding me of the wonder / of seeing very old things as if anew.’ (COLIN CARBERRY)
‘Lie down beside me at the flower’s level. / Do not ask it to be more than it is.’ In this gently observant collection of poems, Bruce Meyer draws out by a skilled faithfulness of description the quiet truths of memory, belief, and mortality. (RICHARD GREENE)
Church Grammar was launched on April 22 at St. Thomas’s Church. In addition to Bruce Meyer, Lesley-Anne Evans (Mute Swan, 2021) and Bruce Hunter (Gallestro, 2023) launched their most recent books.
You can view the 1 hour launch event on YouTube:
The April launch was also an opportunity to mark an anniversary: 35 years of poetry readings at St. Thomas’s Church.
David Kent & Margo Swiss with the anniversary cake.
Reading held on 19 November 2022 at 7:30 pm.
POETRY READING at St. Thomas’s Church
With D. S. Martin & John Terpstra
Introduced by John Franklin, IMAGO
John Terpstra reading
Don Martin, John Franklin, and John Terpstra
John Terpstra and William Blissett
John Franklin speaks about “Crossings” at reception
HERE IS A DIRECT LINK TO THE ARCHIVED LIVE-STREAM:
Published DECEMBER 2021
COVER DESIGN by ANDRA MARES
Lesley-Anne Evans, an Irish-Canadian poet, writes from and stewards Feeny Wood, a contemplative Christian woodland retreat in Kelowna, B.C., on the traditional territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. Her periodical publications include The Antigonish Review, Cascadia Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Faith Today, and Presence Journal. She helped found Red Couch, an art gallery for marginalized artists, and co-created SEE:kelowna, a museum exhibit sharing stories of homelessness. Mute Swan is her first collection of poems.
Mute Swan explores the landscape of the voiceless—voices misnamed, silenced, discounted, or subverted. Within a context of historic and contemporary Christendom, yet blurring perceptions of both, the poet offers a story of spiritual awakening and “unmuting.” Through her willingness to look directly at our human experience of injustice, impermanence, longing, beauty and love, the poet writes a way toward spiritual freedom. Mute Swan is a love letter calling us home.
Mute Swan was launched on December 11, 2021. You can view this 45 minute event here: http://youtu.be/edlHlvN0U4g
For the first review of Mute Swan by Cole Klassen, see the Ormsby Review at this link:
Like our other recent publications, Mute Swan can be purchased for $20. With mailing expenses of $5 in Canada, the total cost is $25.
See our Order page to begin. Payment can be made through Paypal, Interac E-Transfer, or cheque.
“These are powerful, sometimes harrowing testimonies, woven together in fresh, often keenly beautiful poetry. A brave, original, memorable collection.” Malcolm Guite, Cambridge Univ.
“Like the “Mute Swan” of the title, the poet participates in both contemplative silences and song, becoming at last “unmuted,” fiercely present, committed to justice-making as well as to the mysteries of being to which words gesture and point.” Susan McCaslin, Langley, B.C.
“. . . earthy, raw prayers and rich birthing imagery, inviting the reader to plunge into the gorgeous messiness of life. These are poems where everything belongs.” Christine Valters Paintner, Galway, Ireland.
“The poems collected in Mute Swan don’t just remind us that “everything is holy”, but the act of reading moves me to touch that experience for myself . . . a story beckoning me to a supper table where even the most rejected, fearsome and lonely parts can know home.” Gareth Higgins, Asheville, N.C.
This 32 page pamphlet of poems, images, and recollections celebrates the one hundredth birthday of the remarkable William Blissett: literary scholar, inspiring teacher, faithful Anglo-Catholic, bibliophile, patron of the arts and of poets, baseball fan and opera aficionado.
Contributors include Thomas Dilworth, Rowan Williams, John Reibetanz, Richard Greene, John Terpstra, Jeffery Donaldson, Luke Hathaway, Alison Goodwin, and many others. See table of contents below.
The pamphlet is available for $7.50 each + postage of $2.50 for one copy in Canada. Please be in touch via the Ordering page on this website.
Published in December 2020
Cover designs by Andra Mares.
Wild Hope: John Terpstra Second Gaze: Margo Swiss
Each book retails for $20. Postage is extra and will vary according to the size of the order and destination of the package. In Canada, the cost for one book is usually $5, and $9.00 for two.
Please see our Ordering or Contact page to be in touch about ordering these books.
In lieu of launch, please visit YouTube to hear the poets read from their books. The readings are about 20 minutes in length.
John Terpstra reads from “Wild Hope”:
Margo Swiss reads from “Second Gaze”:
For an article about the series in The Anglican (newspaper for Diocese of Toronto) for April 2021, click on this link:
Published in November 2020: Poems for a Birthday
A dozen poems, including two unpublished poems by Richard Outram, in honour of the 90th birthday of Hugh Anson-Cartwright (22 November 2020).
Poets contributing to this 24 page pamphlet: John Reibetanz, Bernadette Rule, Jeffery Donaldson, William Aide, Peter Sanger, John Terpstra, Margo Swiss, Richard Greene, Gordon Johnston, and Luke Hathaway (formerly Amanda Jernigan).
Available now for $5.00 plus postage ($2.50 per copy in Canada). Please see our Ordering or Contact page to initiate an order.
LIMITED EDITION BROADSIDE: published in 2018
George Bowering, a long-time admirer of Margaret Avison, contributed a poem in her honour (“The Weight”) to the special issue of Canadian Poetry marking the centenary of Avison’s birthday in 1918 (Nos. 80 & 81, 2017). He then consented to have the poem printed as a limited edition broadside by Stan Bevington at Coach House (100 copies) for distribution to those attending the event celebrating Avison’s centenary held at St. Thomas’s Church in April 2018. See tab under “Recent Events.”
The remaining copies of this signed broadside (sample shown below) are available for sale at $30 each, plus postage.
The St. Thomas Poetry Series: Background
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; rpt. in 1993 with The Anglican Book Centre) and featured five poets: Robert Finch (his final public reading at age 89), John Reibetanz, Tim Lilburn, Maggie Helwig, and Margo Swiss. Spring and, later, 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, John Reibetanz, Mia Anderson, Pier Giorgio di Cicco, Robyn Sarah, Jeffery Donaldson, Gordon Johnston, Richard Greene, Alice Major, Barry Dempster, Gail Fox, Douglas Lochhead, Bernadette Rule, 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.
The poetry series has always identified itself with St. Thomas’s Anglican Church on Huron Street in Toronto. Our rectors over the past 35 years, Fr. Roy Hoult, Fr. Mark Andrews, and Fr. Nathan Humphrey, have all 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, worked with Nancy Ruth Jackson to ensure the much admired design quality of the books.
Until 2020, 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 underwent a further change with the Johnson and McCaslin books of 2014 and with Di Cicco’s Mystic Playground (2015).
With the launch of John Terpstra’s Wild Hope and Margo Swiss’s Second Gaze (2020), Andra Mares has taken on the cover design role and our books will therefore undergo a further change in styling.
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.
Poetry Readings at St. Thomas’s Church
1988: Wednesday, 4 May: Robert Finch, John Reibetanz, Maggie Helwig, Tim Lilburn, Margo Swiss
1989: Thursday, 11 May: Richard Outram, Barry Dempster, Margo Swiss
[Friday, 6 October: launch of Christian Poetry in Canada ** at St. Aidan’s Church, Queen St. E. Organized by Barry Dempster. With Douglas Lochhead, Maggie Helwig, Barry Dempster, Margo Swiss, Tim Lilburn, and M. Travis Lane]
1990, Wednesday, 9 May: Glenn Hayes, Mia Anderson, J. M. Cameron
1991: Wednesday, 22 May: Brian Vanderlip, Wanda Campbell, John Reibetanz
1992: Tuesday, 13 October: W. J. Keith & George Johnston
1993: 20 October: Colleen Thibaudeau & James Reaney
1994: 5 October: Douglas Lochhead & Maureen Harris
1995: 25 October: Bernadette Rule & John Terpstra
1996: Wednesday, 16 October: Launch of publications in The St. Thomas Poetry Series: George Johnston, Margo Swiss, John Reibetanz
1997: 14 May: Joanne Page & Anne Corkett
17 October: Launch: Susan McCaslin, Douglas Lochhead, Mia Anderson
1998: Saturday, 2 May: Alice Major & Barry Dempster
Saturday, 17 October: Launch: John Terpstra, Bernadette Rule, Richard Outram
1999: Friday, 15 October: Launch: Gail Fox, W. J. Keith, Anne Corkett
2000: Saturday, 6 May: Jeffery Donaldson & John Terpstra
Friday, 13 October: Launch: Alice Major, Barry Dempster, Hannah Main-van der Kamp
2000: 22 November: launch: Hugh Anson-Cartwright, Bookseller: A Celebration
2001: Thursday, 17 May: launch: K. D. Miller, Holy Writ; also Melinda Burns & Antanas Sileika
2002, Monday, 27 May: launch: Alice Major, John Terpstra, Joy Kogawa, Hannah Main-van der Kamp, Richard Greene, Beryl Baigent, David Waltner-Toews, Susan McCaslin (editor). Poetry and Spiritual Practice: Selections from Contemporary Canadian Poets.
2003: Thursday, January 16: Maggie Helwig, launch of Between Mountains
Friday, 13 June: Susan McCaslin & Pier Giorgio di Cicco
2003: Friday, 10 October: launch: Suzanne Collins & Leif Vaage
Friday, 14 November: John Terpstra. Intro. William Blissett
2004: launch: Hannah Main-van der Kamp & Richard Greene
2005: 10 March: launch: Marianne Bluger’s The Eternities with Margo Swiss, Rev. Roland Kawano, Allan and Jocelyn Shipley.
2006: 26 January: launch of John Terpstra, The Boys
Saturday, 18 November: launch: Philip Gardner. Intro. Richard Greene
2007: Saturday, 19 May: launch: Poetry as Liturgy: Alice Major, Sarah Klassen, Pier Giorgio di Cicco, David Waltner-Toews, Leif Vaage, John Reibetanz, David Reibetanz, Hannah Main-van der Kamp, Meaghan Strimas, Suzanne Collins, Margo Swiss
2008: 30 November: launch: George Whipple, Swim Class and Other Poems by Barry Dempster, John Robert Colombo, W. J. Keith, John Terpstra
2009: 30 October: launch of novel Bumps by Tom Crothers and of Skin Boat: Acts of faith and other navigations by John Terpstra
2010: 26 November: launch of novel Sandfires by Tom Crothers
2011: Wednesday, 8 June: Susan McCaslin & Richard Greene
2012: 25 April: launch: Hannah Main-van der Kamp
15 November: Carleton Wilson, intro. by Richard Greene; D. S. Martin, intro. John Terpstra; and John Reibetanz reads from Jeremy Clarke’s Common Prayer
2013: Wednesday, 8 May: John Reibetanz & John Terpstra
13 November: 25th anniversary reading: Suzanne Collins, Philip Gardner, Richard Greene, John Reibetanz, Bernadette Rule, Margo Swiss, John Terpstra
2014: Wednesday, 19 November: George Johnston centenary: William Blissett, Bob Johnston, Andrew Johnston, Richard Greene, John Reibetanz, Robyn Sarah, John Terpstra
2015: Thursday, 16 April: John Terpstra & Margo Swiss
10 October: launch: Pier Giorgio di Cicco, intro. David Latham; Mia Anderson, intro. Bishop Mark MacDonald
2016: 19 November: launch: John Terpstra, intro. Daniel Coleman
2017: 9 November: launch: The Turning Aside, ed. D. S. Martin with Richard Greene, John Terpstra, Margo Swiss, and D. S. Martin
2018: Thursday, 19 April: Centenary of Margaret Avison: bill bissett, Maureen Scott Harris, Robyn Sarah, Gordon Johnston, William Aide, Jill Jorgenson, Rev. Donald MacLeod, Jeffery Donaldson
2019: Saturday, 6 April: launch Susan McCaslin & J. S. Porter; intro. by Bernie Lucht: Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton’s Dance with the Feminine
Saturday, 9 November: “Favourites and Requests”: Richard Greene, John Reibetanz, and J. Porter
2020: launch: in lieu of launch during Covid 19, John Terpstra (Wild Hope) & Margo Swiss (Second Gaze) give readings on YouTube
2021: launch of Mute Swan: Lesley Anne reads and talks from her living room in Kelowna: YouTube.
2022: 19 November; Reading by John Terpstra and D. S. Martin. Introduced by John Franklin. First live-streamed event
2023, 22 April: launch of Church Grammar by Bruce Meyer, with delayed launch of Mute Swan by Lesley-Anne Evans and also reading by Bruce Hunter