Grenfell English professors Stephanie McKenzie and Randall Maggs, along with John Ennis of the Waterford Institute of Technology, have another publication at the ready.
The Echoing Years Anthology of Contemporary Canadian and Irish Verse is a unique 1,280-page anthology published by School of Humanities Publications at Waterford Institute of Technology. It marks a serious contribution to literary scholarship in both Ireland and Canada. It has been some two years in the making and involved intensive consultation with and support from poets, editors, publishers and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. The volume includes the work of 186 poets and translators, half in half from each side. It is already being sought as a university text in Canada.
The Echoing Years does not try to replicate any national “standard” or any existing anthology or established canon. The Echoing Years puts a love of verse before a love of politics or canonization. Voices are not comfortably matched with an agenda or theme; voices are left to people the pages of this comprehensive collection and the sensibilities of worlds sometimes oceans apart or, at times, a flick of the page away from near counterparts.
To the knowledge of the editors, there has never been an anthology released in Canada that has presented French Canadian and English Canadian together on this scale and with a three-editor preface. The Echoing Years includes selections from both French and English poets in Canada. The anthology also boasts a healthy representation of distinct and diverse voices, including West-Indian (Caribbean)-Canadian and First Nations (Cree, Métis, Okanagan Delaware, Ojibway) voices, among others. With its mixture of both “canonical” Canadian poetry and Canadian poetry largely uncanonized, The Echoing Years can be seen as a distinctive and distinguished addition to Canadian poetic scholarship. On the human side, it features work on victims, accusers, the jailed and the executed as well as poems on the follies of power old and new, youth and the trials of Alzheimer Disease.
From the Irish perspective, the anthology is also unique in that for the first time a comprehensive volume includes the voices of poets from Eastern Europe presented in translation by Irish poets, which reflects the new contemporary multi-cultural Ireland.
The poetry of 22 poets writing in the Irish language is included as well as the voice of a young award-winning Nigerian poet resident now in Waterford. Reflecting the often diasporic nature of Irish literature, the anthology contains the long poem “Hunger Strike” by the deceased Australian poet, Vincent Buckley. The work of Irish poets living abroad is liberally included.
The Echoing Years contains a significant preface – a conversation between the three editors – which outlines some of the rationale behind choosing pieces, as well as a self-reflexive review of the process underlying the anthology’s compilation. The Echoing Years also contains a valuable contribution by Dominique Gaucher and Jean-Pierre Pelletier (on the processes underlying their choices of French texts); a similar contribution on Irish-language choices and Note on Translation by Gréagoir Ó Dúill (whose own university anthology Fearann Pinn is going to reprint) as well as a brief overview of Irish society and immigration (1995-2006), by Jonathan Culleton of The Centre for Social and Family Research at Waterford Institute of Technology. Given these additions, The Echoing Years is intended to be not only an enjoyable read but also a critical and scholarly reference tool.
The anthology will be released in Ireland in late November, with plans for an official Canadian launch during the March Hare Poetry Festival in March 2008.