Fred Cogswell


  1. Biography
  2. Why Should We Read and Study Cogswell?
  3. Literature & Analysis
    • “Valley-Folk”
    • “New Brunswick”
    • Analysis of “Valley-Folk” and “New Brunswick”
    • “George Burroughs”
    • “George Ernst”
    • “Ode to Fredericton”
    • Analysis of “Ode to Fredericton”
    • “A Defense of Amateurism”
    • “The Water and the Rock”
    • “Like Two Slant Trees”
    • Analysis of “The Water and the Rock” and “Like Two Slant Trees”
    • “In a Hospital”
    • “How it Was”
    • from “Zen: The Epicure”
    • “Zen”
    • Analysis of “Zen: The Epicure” and “Zen”
  4. Questions and Considerations for Reflection
  5. Strategies for Teachers
  6. Further Reading
  7. Copyright


Fred Cogswell was many-dimensioned. Farmer, soldier, poet, professor, publisher, editor, critic, anthologist, translator, and renowned “friend of poets,” he was a cultural worker without equal in New Brunswick. Born in 1917 in East Centreville, NB, he spent his early years on the family farm juggling the not-always-compatible demands of physical labour and creative imagination. A voracious reader and brilliant student, he quickly ascended to a position as professor at UNB, from which he took on the role of editor of The Fiddlehead, the province’s leading (and still-circulating) literary magazine. With hard work and determination, he transformed the magazine from a small private newsletter to a journal of national significance that attracted the work of North America’s best writers. He did the same as publisher of Fiddlehead Poetry Books, striving to provide a forum that would help writers reach a wide audience. As editor of The Fiddlehead (195366) and publisher of Fiddlehead Poetry Books (195481), he became the friend and mentor of an entire generation of Canadian writers. His first collection of poems, The Stunted Strong, appeared in 1954. Subsequent to that, he published extensively, both creative and critical works, and he mentored a generation of students, many of whom went on to become Canada’s leading writers and critics. His work was equally significant in the field of translation, both in Quebec and Acadie. His translations of Acadian poetry provided New Brunswick’s Anglophones with the first glimpses of the literature of their provincial neighbours.

For a much more detailed biography of Cogswell, see his New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia entry.

Why Should We Read and Study Cogswell?

  • Cogswell’s work is unlike that of other Canadian modernists. He valued traditional meters and rhyme as much as he valued the free forms of modernism. As a result, many of his poems are hybrid forms of what is called prosody: the pattern of rhythm, structure, and sound used in poetry. Unusual for a literary modernist, he did not find strict forms confining, but rather welcomed them for triggering new directions and thought. Rather than impose his will on the direction of a poem, he let the verse form take over, obeying what that form demanded. The first two poems below are examples of this, “Valley-Folk” especially effective in using the constrictive sonnet form to shape the actual confinement of his neighbours. The result of such hybridized technique for Cogswell was as exciting as it was unexpected. For readers, the result presents an unusual interpretation of modernist freedom (the freedom, in his case, to be disciplined by form).
  • We should also read Cogswell for the intimacy of his portraits of New Brunswickers. His first collection introduced a whole community of striking personalities, the vividness of whom had never before been sketched. Cogswell, then, personalized New Brunswickers as no writer had done, providing important models of care and intimacy for younger poets such as Robert Gibbs, Elizabeth Brewster, and Alden Nowlan. Part of that interest in the personal led him to a lifetime exploration of the spiritual, which is clearly evident in his poetry. He remains one of the most important spiritual poets in the province.
  • Finally, Cogswell’s unprecedented generosity to writers requires some degree of reciprocation. And while this sort of rationale normally means that the writer in question does not merit attention on his own, that is certainly not the case for Cogswell. His work does stand on its own merits, and should be read on that account. But it is equally true that his untiring devotion to others should also compel us to linger a little longer over his work, for he certainly lingered lavishly and carefully over the work of others.

Literature & Analysis


O narrow is the house where we are born,
And narrow are the fields in which we labour,
Fenced in by rails and woods that low hills neighbour
Lest they should spill their crops of hay and corn.
O narrow are the hates with which we thorn
Each other’s flesh by gossip of the Grundies,
And narrow are our roads to church on Sundays,
And narrow too the vows of love we’ve sworn.

But through our fields the Saint John river flows
And mocks the patterned fields that we enclose;
There sometimes pausing in the dusty heat
We stretch cramped backs and lean upon our hoes
To watch a sea-gull glide with lazy beat
To wider regions where the river goes.

“New Brunswick”

Before it takes the air in greener shoots
A seed is nurtured by surrounding soil
And patterned by whatever streams can coil
Where worms and borers worked their slow pursuits;
And though it wills to grow a crown that fruits
In skies where lightnings break and thunders clap,
It can’t escape the source that feeds its sap:
No tree belies its soil, outgrows its roots.

Not soft the soil where we took root together;
It grew not giants but the stunted strong,
Toughened by suns and bleak wintry weather
To grow up slow and to endure for long;
We have not gained to any breadth or length,
And all our beauty is our stubborn strength.

Analysis of  “Valley-Folk” and “New Brunswick”

Both anchor poems of Cogswell’s first collection The Stunted Strong (1954), “Valley-Folk” and “New Brunswick” offer a perspective on the province that we have not seen before. There are no epic or magisterial proportions in Cogswell’s citizenry, only the simple, hard-working, and God-fearing people that we recognize as our own friends and neighbours. Cogswell, then, has quite deliberately held up a mirror for us to see our own reflections, which is always a dangerous thing for an artist to do. The reasons why are clear to see in “Valley-Folk,” a poem that riffs on the narrowness of “Upper River Valley” (Carleton County) people, that narrowness an imprint of rote work and religious law. The absolutes of such an existence are stark, and the lines of conduct unyieldingly straightexcept for the meandering river that glides drowsily through their territory. Mocking in its indifference to patterned fields and a hard-won Protestant work ethic, the great river nevertheless entices in offering either respite from exhausting farm labour or, as in Cogswell’s case, escape from such fixed absolutes. Like the seagulls that swoon on its banks and follow it, the river offers at least the possibility of release from captivity. (One imagines between the lines here a triumphant Huck Finn bobbing down the river in a handmade raft, an image that Cogswell would no doubt have warmed to.)

For those unable or unwilling to escape such absolutes, or those under the delusion that escape is even possible, the poem “New Brunswick” is dedicated. One of Cogswell’s signature poems, it seeks to “explain” our character in a particular way. On the one hand, the poem applies a theory of naturalism to New Brunswickers – the idea that humans are the product of environment and heredityand, on the other hand, it seems unperturbed by (even celebrating) such conditioning. Much of the place-based aesthetic that has filtered through New Brunswick literature to date culminates in this naturalism, so it should not be unfamiliar or surprising. Charles G.D. Roberts’ sonnets turned the connection between New Brunswickers and their environments into a pastoral idyll. Cogswell’s “New Brunswick” takes that one step further, attributing the uniqueness of our personality to the ruggedness of the “surrounding soil” which incubates us. For all our dreams of escape, Cogswell’s poem suggests, none of us can ever escape formative beginnings, “the source that feeds its sap: No tree belies its soil, outgrows its roots.”

The sestet, or last six lines of the sonnet, is reconciled to this causality (this relationship between environment and personality). Germinating in rocky, inhospitable soil, we grow stunted but strong, further toughened by a harsh climate that demands compromise and forbearance. Beautiful without elegance, attractive without charm, our signature “is our stubborn strength.”

The “identity” the poem constructs is as accurate as it is unsettling, for, while we recognize the truth of Cogswell’s description when we gaze outward, we are made uncomfortable including ourselves in this characterization. But perhaps that is its truth: its ability to unsettle is proof of its accuracy.

Regardless of what the final verdict is on the poem (whether it is accurate or not in describing our provincial character), the poem is nevertheless important for its originality and boldness. No writer before Cogswell so deliberately attempted to frame our identity, and those who followed him were all indebted to his early efforts.

The two poems that follow, “George Burroughs” and “George Ernst,” are but two of many similar portraits in The Stunted Strong that seek to introduce readers to the Carleton County farm folk that Cogswell knew.

“George Burroughs”

Although George Burroughs often used a knife,
As farmers must, to castrate or to kill,
He took no pleasure in the touch of steel.
As one who loved to feel things come to life
Beneath his hands, to end the patient strife
Of calving heifers pleased him best of all.
He liked the springtime better than the fall,
But all his farm was fruitful save his wife.

They say that when the doctor came last Spring
And said that he could never have a child,
Although he neither stormed nor acted wild,
He would not let the seed-drill work his lands
But walked the barren fields himself, sowing
The seed broadcast with quick jerks of his hands.

“George Ernst”

George Ernst went in for horses all his life.
Though he was poor, no matter how things went
He kept the best team in the settlement,
Bit-keen and mated for the hauler’s strife.
He’d never let a blacksmith use a knife
But pared their hoofs as if those hoofs were gold;
They ate more oats and hay than what he sold.
Men said he loved them better than his wife.

He paid nine hundred dollars’ interest
Upon a thousand dollar loan; then pressed,
He had to sell his team to save his lands.
While dealers dickered and the sheriff sold,
He stood and gripped their bridles in his hands.
I never saw a man who looked so old.

“Ode to Fredericton”

White are your housetops, white too your vaulted elms
That make your stately streets long aisles of prayer,
And white your thirteen spires that point your God
Who reigns afar in pure and whiter air,
And white the dome of your democracy—
The snow has pitied you and made you fair,
O snow-washed city of cold, white Christians,
So white you will not cut a black man’s hair.

Analysis of  “Ode to Fredericton”

This poem arose from an incident in late 1947 in Fredericton that was first reported by the UNB paper The Brunswickan and later circulated nationally by the Canadian University Press. The incident involved a black forestry student at UNB who was a World War Two veteran and who was denied service by local barbers because of his colour. Vernon Mullen, then Editor-in-Chief of The Brunswickan, as well as a CCF (now NDP) organizer, published a special supplement to the paper condemning the affair. Mullen’s editorial accused four Fredericton barbershops of “unchristian racial discrimination.” It said further: “The same fine citizens of Fredericton who contribute large sums to ‘Christianize’ the poor ‘heathen,’ who are considered to be solid pillars of our churches, but who refuse to sit in a barber’s chair after a Negro has had his hair cut there, are no more Christians in the true sense of the word than the ‘heathen’ they want to convert” (qtd. in Mullen 34-5). The next month (January 1948), The Brunswickan carried Cogswell’s poem satirizing Fredericton’s purity.

Cogswell’s poem makes much of the “whiteness” of Fredericton: its white housetops, its white elms, its white rarefied air, and its white dome of democracy, the provincial legislature. The purity of that “whiteness,” however, is tarnished by the darkness of prejudice, which seeks to exclude and condemn anything that is not of its likeness. The poem is therefore an angry strike against an aspect of the provincial character that Cogswell rightly finds distasteful – and so, once again, Cogswell is drawing our attention to a kind of “stuntedness” in our provincial character. The portrait is not flattering, but neither is it inaccurate. New Brunswick continues to be among the most ethnically “white” of the Canadian provinces, the reason for that a combination of lack of opportunity (immigrants, we are told, prefer large urban environments) and lack of desire to engage with newcomers. That is not to suggest that New Brunswickers are consciously racist or inhospitable, but that their conservative ethos rallies around strategies of preservation rather than pluralism. One need only consider the still-tribal debates over French accommodation to understand that peculiarity of character and aversion to difference.

“A Defense of Amateurism”

I know what the answer is

in all the games I ever played
baseball basketball and golf
I have never been a star

but every honest player shares
the joys the great stars have

occasions when my fielding zeal
pulled off a leaping catch
that lay beyond my skill

the high-arched spin my two hands knew
would cleave the hoop even as it left
my far-extended fingertips
the true faint vibration
that ran along the putter’s shaft
to tell my body that the ball
was rolling truly to the cup

these things however rare
were in themselves enough
to justify my efforts and the games

it is that way too with poetry

“The Water and the Rock”

Hard rock was I, and she was water flowing,
Over sharp stones of opposition going;
Shaping herself to me as to a cup,

She filled the valleys of my ego up
With a cool, smooth compliance, everywhere
As yielding and unhurtable as air.

Soft was my love as water, and I forgot
In the calm wash of compliant rhythm caught
How water shapes and softens, sculpts and smooths
The channel of the rock through which it moves.

“Like Two Slant Trees”

“Lean on me,” he said,
loving her weakness

and she leaned hard
adoring his strength

Like two slant trees
they grew together

their roots the wrong way
for standing alone

Analysis of  “The Water and the Rock” and “Like Two Slant Trees”

These two short but remarkable poems reflect Cogswell’s belief that the most profound emotions must always be expressed in the fewest words.

The poems show the influence of Bliss Carman and A.G. Bailey: Carman because of the poems’ openness to sharing the most private thoughts publicly (there is no “modernist” erasure of personality as T.S. Eliot counselled) and Bailey because both poems speak about a central ecology or interdependence that governs all things, including human relationships.

In “The Water and the Rock” Cogswell forces the reader to default to the male perspective on relationships, and thus he uses images of hard and soft, rock and water, authority and compliance to construct the conventional power dynamic between man and woman. The woman in the relationship is originally thought of as the biblical “wife,” she who serves her husband and fills his “ego up.” But that adherence to fixed and absolute roles does not define relationships, says the poem. Rather, what all males in patriarchal societies discover when they enter relationships is how limiting and unfulfilling such stereotypes are – and how living by their dictates ensures only a relationship’s adolescence. A more accurate portrait of relationships, which the end of the poem gently reveals, is that they thrive on mutuality, perhaps even when that mutuality is denied. In the end, the water is equal to and even stronger than the rock, and so the two shape themselves to the other with equal strength. Only in coming together is that strength harnessed for the good; in opposition, as is the case in some relationships, its action only erodes, weakening and eventually fracturing all structure that existed.

A more honest approach to relationships is to think of them as complementing difference, an idea that “Like Two Slant Trees” develops. And though the poem relies on the strength/weakness binary, we can assume from having just read the previous poem that Cogswell is not writing about male strength as carrying the day and sweeping the helpless damsel off her feet. Rather, he is writing about how opposites can come together as complements and how “weakness” completes “strength.” What is ultimately important is that both lovers “grow together,” for each finds in the other something that prevents them from standing alone.

The simple wisdom of those two poems is worth more than a dozen pop psychologists combined. Many other poems by Cogswell explore such complex issues with simple, direct imagery. “In a Hospital” does so to consider the mystery and finitude of death.

“In a Hospital”

in a hospital
a breath of infant breath blends
with a last-gasp death

the child does not know
he is alive nor the man
that his breathing’s done

nor can those watchers
who pronounce that one is dead
and the other born

say with certainty
of what they saw before them
any more than this

“in a hospital
we watched two breaths meet in time
the rest in silence”

“How it Was”

The road we travelled was the usual one.
Uphill and down it wound its way between
Pale fields of grain and woods of darker green,
Skirting the river where cool waters run,
Glassy and blue beneath a summer sun.
Along the way, scarce noticing, we passed
Houses, barns, pastures thick with cows. At last
We stopped before a graveyard, journey done.

At your grandparents’ tomb I took a spade,
Turned up the sod, and put your urn beneath
To be with them in place and time and death.
Then as I covered up the hole I made
My ears were opened and I heard the strong
And living sweetness of a robin’s song.

from “Zen: The Epicure”

I think the best of all the tales in Zen
Is that where a man clings to a cliff-ledge
Between the snake that crawls up after him
And the fierce tiger lurking at the top,
But, finding there a bunch of sweet raisins,
He eats them, crying out, “How delicious!” ...

I abdicate the climb to reach the top.
Let tiger prowl and snake come chasing sins.
Today I heed the lesson taught by Zen
And pay for hunger with a grateful hymn
Just so long as there is one delicious
Raisin resting on my life’s narrow ledge.

But when that food has vanished from the ledge
And I must move through time toward the top
Where death, the tiger, waits, all unconscious
Of what is in my mind, and my snaky sins
Crawl after me, what matters that no whim
Of mine can bring me back the sense of Zen?

Sins matter not, nor whims. True heart-knowledge
Is wholly in the process not the stop.
Incarnate Zen is in the word “delicious.”


the almighty sun
says good-morning to the ant
as well as to me

Analysis of  “Zen: The Epicure” and “Zen”

“Zen: The Epicure” is the final of Cogswell’s 1986 “meditations,” a series of sestinas that made his philosophy clear. A follower of Eastern religion and thought for most of his life, Cogswell rejected the “narrowness” of the fundamentalist Christianity into which he was born. His early poem “Valley-Folk” is thus not only the portrait of a people but also the criticism of a one-time adherent. Much of what Cogswell rejected in his own tradition was the notion of dominion over the world found in the Book of Genesis, a notion of control that does not appear in Zen.

Instead, followers of Zen relinquish dominion for fellowship, seeing themselves as simple nodes of energy in larger ecosystems of similar nodes. Their “demotion” brings a humility that is evident in many Cogswell poems – such as “A Defense of Amateurism” and “Zen” a humility that reduces fear and invites communion. Being reduced to just another point of energy enables the poet to see new life encircling his. Vitality for the older poet is “a green blade growing / out of a cleft in the rock, / defying time’s cold” (“Life Is” 65) and ego, as a result, is deposed: “I’m no older in my eightieth year / Than a mayfly in its twentieth hour” (“Mayfly Ballade” 21). And so, as “Zen” reveals, the sun is as attentive to warming the ant as to warming him.

With such wisdom comes release: the poet is able to “abdicate the climb to reach the top,” thus leaving the tiger and the snake to fulfill their own destinies (the biblical allusions surrounding the snake are intentional). The recompense is the full palette of life’s pleasures, whether “sweet raisins” or the understanding that a life well lived is its own reward. To live in the moment, to rejoice in the world around us, to savour that world’s simple joys, and to give the ants their rightful place, these are what constitute the “delicious.”

Taken as a whole, Cogswell’s life as a poet is best understood as a creative and spiritual journey from the “narrowness” of his beginnings to the open horizons of a life without judgement, fear, or regret. As such, he is one of the most important spiritual writers the province has produced.

Questions and Considerations for Reflection

► The effort to particularize Canada – to give us a history, an identity, and a singularity was first undertaken in New Brunswick as a wholesale cultural project by the Confederation Poets, most notably Charles G.D. Roberts. In Canada, the Group of Seven painters undertook a similar project two decades later, seeking to capture and represent the Canadian imagination. In each of these projects, landscape predominates to the extent that it is reasonable to ask where is the human face, the human heart, and the peculiarity of personality? Is Canadian landscape so dominant that it erases (literally effaces) the humans that live amidst it? This may have been a question Fred Cogswell contemplated, for his poetry, especially his early poetry, is unusual for its emphasis on people. Yes, Cogswell is interested in the intersection of people and their environments, as most Canadian poets of his time were, but, unlike his peers, he shines light on the personalities who struggle to assert agency under nature’s dominion. He shows us who his people are, what they struggle against, and why we should care about them. In this emphasis we see the beginnings of a “confessional” tradition in New Brunswick literature that reaches its heights in the work of Alden Nowlan and Elizabeth Brewster.

► That said, it is instructive to compare the early work of Cogswell with the early work of Alden Nowlan, a poet who Cogswell befriended and nurtured in the early stages of his career. What do Cogswell’s “New Brunswick” and Nowlan’s “They Go Off to Seek Their Fortunes” (see Confessional Humanism) reveal about the New Brunswick personality? Which poet is bolder in the risks he takes to state the truth about human failings? Consider, also, the Cogswell and Nowlan poems against A.G. Bailey’s “The Muskrat and the Whale,” which invites an expansion of the definition of beauty, grace, and acclaim. Are these poets saying something similar about New Brunswickers?

Strategies for Teachers

Strategy 1: Repetition (“Valley Folk” and “Ode to Fredericton”)

These poems repeat, respectively, the words “narrow” and “white,” with one effect being to highlight the words “wider” and “black.” Ask students to discuss the ways this repetition affects their reading of the poems. For example, does repetition give them insight to the attitude of the speaker, and how he situates himself in relation to the valley folk and Frederictonians? Can they think of an example (literary/musical/artistic) where repetition is used to similar ends, or to a quite different effect?

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Reading and Viewing: Show the relationships among language, topic, purpose, context and audience

Strategy 2: Naturalism (“New Brunswick”)

Ask students to consider whether “the stunted strong” rings true as a characterization of current New Brunswickers. In what ways has our relationship to the environment changed over the last century? Have these changes had an effect on our individual and provincial character?

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Speaking and Listening: Articulate, advocate, and justify positions on an issue or text in a convincing manner, showing an understanding of a range of viewpoints

Strategy 3: Four Corners (“Like Two Slant Trees”)

Depending on the reader, this poem could depict a relationship that is beautifully balanced, or disturbingly co-dependent. Arrange in each corner of the room the words strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree. After having students read the poem, ask them to consider the statement “This relationship is beautiful,” and move to the corner that best captures their response. After discussing their choice with their corner-mates, you could ask each group to share their perspective with the whole class, or alternatively could mix students from opposite corners to explore their different responses. After the exercise, do any students wish to change corners?

This might be a good opportunity to discuss the larger issue of literary interpretation, and the relative importance of the author’s own commentary. If Cogswell stated that he wrote this poem about a perfect/flawed relationship, should that matter when it comes to reader interpretation? Why or why not? Likewise, if every student agrees with the statement, to what degree does this suggest the statement is true?

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Speaking and Listening: Articulate, advocate, and justify positions on an issue or text in a convincing manner, showing an understanding of a range of viewpoints

Strategy 4: Birth/Death (“In a Hospital”)

In this poem, juxtaposing birth with death accentuates the mystery of both. Witnessing birth and death does not grant insight to either, since observation is quite different from the experience of being born or dying. Cogswell’s approach is different from the way we normally see birth and death in the media: the cliché-laden invocation of the cycle of life, intended to produce pathos. Cogswell’s choice to focus on what we do not know, rather than laying out what it all means, is much more meaningful.

Ask students to think of other examples of the birth/death juxtaposition in media, in addition to considering examples you provide (perhaps George Strait’s song “Breath You Take” or the opening to 2009’s Star Trek). What is the purpose and effect of the juxtaposition? How is Cogswell’s emphasis on the non-banal and unrehearsed distinct from the other examples?

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Reading and Viewing: Note the relationship of specific elements of a particular text to elements of other texts

Strategy 5: Colliding World Views (“Zen”)

Ask students to imagine and depict a meeting between the speaker of “Zen” and another author the students have read. Modes of depiction could include a written account, a script or performed skit, or a comedic exchange. Suggested works from this curriculum include the passage where Jacques Cartier writes about erecting a cross or Jonathan Odell’s “Ode for the New Year.” In what ways might the speakers from these works clash? Where could they find some common ground?

After the writing activity, ask students to reflect on which world view they found most sympathetic, and why. How did this affect their depictions? Were they fair to both world views, or did either depiction skirt the line of caricature?

Key Stage Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Writing and Representing: Make effective choices of language and techniques to enhance the impact of imaginative writing and other ways of representing

Further Reading

Cogswell, Fred. A Long Apprenticeship: The Collected Poems of Fred Cogswell. Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1980.

---. “Life Is.” The Kindness of Stars. Ottawa: Borealis, 2004. 65.

---. “Mayfly Ballade.” A Double Question. Nepean: Borealis, 1999. 21-22.

Forsythe, Kathleen, ed. The Vision of Fred: Friend of Poets/Ami de Poètes [Conversations with Fred Cogswell on the Nature and Function of Poetry]. Ottawa: Borealis, 2004.

Galloway, David. “SCL Interviews: Fred Cogswell.” Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne 10.1-2 (1985): 208-225.

Moore, Andrew. “The Fiddlehead.” The New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia. Ed. Tony Tremblay. Fredericton: New Brunswick Studies Centre, 2010. 15 July 2020

Mullen, Vernon. “University of New Brunswick.” Them Lions Will Eat Them Up. Richmond, ON: Voyager Publishing, 1999. 27-42.

Tremblay, Tony. “Fred Cogswell.” New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia. Ed. Tony Tremblay. . Fredericton: New Brunswick Studies Centre, 2011. 15 July 2020

---.“Fred Cogswell: Internationalizing the Local.” The Fiddlehead Moment: Pioneering an Alternative Canadian Modernism in New Brunswick. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2019. 148-208.

---. Fred Cogswell: The Many-Dimensioned Self. Fredericton: Electronic Text Centre, 2012. 15
July 2020 <>.

---. “‘I write upon the wall, Good Will to Men’: Locating the Dialectic of Art and Editing in the Early Poetry of Fred Cogswell.” Ellipse 68 (Autumn 2002): 47-57.

For much more detailed primary and secondary source bibliographies of Cogswell, see his New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia entry.


We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Kathleen Forsythe, Literary Executor of the Estate of Fred Cogswell, for allowing us to use the poems above for this curriculum. Further use or distribution of these poems, however, is a violation of Canadian copyright law and is strictly prohibited. Under no circumstance may literary material used in the curriculum be reproduced, distributed, or stored without the permission of the copyright holder.

All poems above, except “How it Was,” “Zen,” and “Zen: The Epicure” appear in Cogswell’s A Long Apprenticeship: The Collected Poems of Fred Cogswell. Fredericton: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1980. “How it Was” and “Zen” appear in Cogswell’s Pearls. Charlottetown: Ragweed, 1983. “Zen: The Epicure” appears in Cogswell’s Meditations: 50 Sestinas. Charlottetown: Ragweed, 1986.

All contents except for poetry and fiction copyright © Tony Tremblay, James W. Johnson, and Alexandra Cogswell.