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More Lacey

May I add a necessarily long footnote to Doug Fetherling's welcome column (October) on the life and work of Edward Lacey? Among the early appearances of Lacey's work, I would like to add his work in Varsity Chapbook (Toronto: Ryerson, 1959), edited by John Robert Colombo. (By the way, the title of his 1965 collection is The Forms of Loss, not The Form of Loss.) An acerbic and hilarious chronicle on Canadian poetry appeared in Northern Journey 4 (1974) as "Canadian Bards and South American Reviewers". For what it's worth, Lacey was the only Canadian represented in the Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse (1983), edited by Stephen Coote. And a substantial selection of his poetry and translations appear in Gay Roots: Twenty Years of Gay Sunshine, an Anthology of Gay History, Sex, Politics, and Culture, vols. I and II (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1988 and 1993).

It's not surprising that Fetherling overlooked Lacey's last poetry collection, the admittedly obscure Third World: Travel Poems by E. A. Lacey (Jakarta, Indonesia: Black's Image Lounge, 1994). This volume also contains a foreword by Byron Black, letters by Mike van Ness about Lacey's long convalescence in a Bangkok hospital, a note by Jourdon Arenson, photographs, and letters and poems by myself.

Lacey was also a remarkable translator from French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Among his translations are English versions of Luis Zapata's Adonis García: A Picaresque Novel (1981), Adolfo Caminha's Bom-Crioulo: The Black Man and the Cabin Boy (1982), My Deep Dark Pain is Love: A Collection of Latin American Gay Fiction (1983), and René R. Khawam's French version of Ahmad al-Tijashi's The Delight of Hearts or What You Will Not Find in Any Book (1988). Gay Sunshine Press published these four books, Winston Leyland being the editor of the last two.

I wish I could report that all the books I've mentioned are available in fine bookstores everywhere. They are not.

Fraser Sutherland



While I appreciate Dermot McCarthy's point about "the milk-soaked bread that passes for literary fare" (Letters, October), it should not be impossibly difficult to find a balance between adulation and carping criticism.

On the very next day after I had stayed up until 2 a.m. ready Mary Soderstrom's Endangered Species, I came upon Lorna Jackson's review of it (October). I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I found most of the characters believable and human. The opening caught my attention; the link between Jesse and Claire was unusual, perhaps, but convincing enough, especially in the first half of the book. Léo, the political son, was a recognizable Quebec figure but a real person as well-as was his relationship with his dying father.

Jackson's description of the language as peculiarly dated and stale amazed me. I found the dialogue throughout the book excellent-lively, and revealing of the personalities of the characters.

Soderstrom's novel is shortlisted for the QSPELL prize for fiction. Surely it has some redeeming characteristics, Ms. Jackson?

Jan Morgan

Arundel, Quebec

Austin Clarke in a purse

I thoroughly enjoyed the September issue and must write to thank Cecil Foster for introducing me to the works of Austin Clarke. The day after reading the interview with Mr. Foster, in which he says that "Austin has not got the attention that is his due," I was browsing in a used book-store and ran across a collection of Austin Clarke short stories (Nine Men Who Laughed) and thought I'd check them out, in spite of my resistance to reading dialect. I was delighted from the start and am impressed with the depth of emotion Mr. Clarke brings forth on the printed page. I've carried this book with me in my purse, not just to read, but to share with friends and co-workers. Good stuff!

Elsa Paterson

Saint John, New Brunswick

Fishpools found

In "Noises Off and On" (May), David Prosser admits that he could not recall from what source Shaw drew his reference for a stage direction in Heartbreak House to "the fishpools of Heshbon". As to the precise location, colour, and depth of these fishpools, and the species yielded thereby, I know not. I do know for certain, however, that the reference is to the Bible, in particular, to The Song of Solomon, ch. 7, v. 4: "Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-Rabbim; thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus."

Brian Anthony


Wilfrid Laurier on creative non-fiction

I was delighted to read Joel Yanovsky's essay on creative non-fiction (September). He is absolutely right to say that this is an underestimated and misunderstood genre, but wrong (and I'm sure he will be pleased to hear this) to say that nobody recognizes it.

The Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction was established by the writer and journalist Edna Staebler to recognize a genre she believes has been neglected by the literary establishment. The award ($3,000) is made annually and seeks to support the work of a new Canadian writer-a first or second book-set in Canada or with a particular Canadian significance. It is sponsored and administered by Wilfrid Laurier University. As far as I know, it is the only award of its kind. The 1995 award has just been announced-it goes to Denise Chong for The Concubine's Children, her remarkable memoir of her family's life in China and Vancouver.

When the award was first made, in 1991, the term "creative non-fiction" was little used and even less understood. This year we received a record number of entries and increasing recognition from writers, publishers, and the media-evidence, I hope, that creative non-fiction has at last come of age.

Alexandra Wright

(award administrator and publicist)

Cambridge, Ont.


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