Atlantic Canada is enjoying a renaissance unknown since the days of Alden Nowlan, Milton Acorn, and John Thompson. Coastlines: The Poetry of Atlantic Canada features work by 60 of the region's finest poets in a volume that will whet appetites for more. The earlier poetry renaissance began in 1945, with the establishment of The Fiddlehead magazine. In this new volume, the present Fiddlehead editor Ross Leckie, and his collaborators Ann Compton, Laurence Hutchman, and Robin McGrath, showcase the lasting effects of that earlier renaissance and confidently forecast that the newest generation of Atlantic poets will help to make poetry, once again, a pre-eminent literary form in Canada.
Coastlines provides expansive reading pleasure because of the astonishing range of poetic intelligences it represents and the myriad ways poets find to work and rework the topography of Atlantic culture and landscape. The earliest poems in the anthology were written in the 1950s by the acknowledged greats — Acorn, Nowlan, and Thompson — and by Alfred Bailey, Elizabeth Bishop, and Charles Bruce. The collection also features work by senior poets such as Kay Smith, M. Travis Lane, Fred Cogswell, and Douglas Lochhead, and mid-career poets such as Elisabeth Harvor, Harry Thurston, and John Steffler. Poets of the post-1995 renaissance include Anne Simpson, Sue Sinclair, Michael Crummey, and George Elliott Clarke, who won the 2001 Governor General's Award; Lynn Davies, Sue Goyette, and Carole Langille have all been recent finalists, and both Brian Bartlett and matt robinson have won the Petra Kenney Memorial International Poetry Prize. The newest voices in Coastlines belong to Tammy Armstrong and Geoff Cook, whose work was selected from manuscripts published in 2002.