Milton Acorn George Bowering - Essay

George Bowering

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Al Purdy and Milton Acorn have a lot in common, especially in the recent history of Canadian poetry. They both came to maturity at about the same time in the early sixties, not at an early age for either of them. They edited a magazine together in Montreal where Purdy was working in a mattress factory and Acorn was selling his carpenter's tools. Acorn was flopping at Purdy's flat, reading Purdy's library, and being introduced to Purdy's poet-influences, Layton, Dudek, et al. More than one reader thought at the time that Acorn was a pen-name for Purdy. That was all more than ten years ago. Now it is fitting, not to mention fortunate for Acorn, that Purdy edits the selected poems of his old pal [in I've Tasted My Blood: Poems 1956 to 1968]. (p. 84)

Having so many good poems together in one book convinces me that Acorn is not only honest and exciting, as no one has ever doubted, but also very much accomplished as an artist, not so much the natural beast as he has often been envisioned:

so man's truest home is the wind
created of his breath
and he breathes deepest in mystery.

That kind of imagination has as much root in Acorn's earlier trade of carpentry … as does his celebrated socialism. He is still resolved to make his lines run true, to make the sounds render their finest possibilities lying in rime...

(The entire section is 563 words.)