Poets, Literary Groups, and Aesthetic Movements

ENGL 3670

Literary Groups

Confederation Poets

1880 - 1940

Victorian Romanticism, outdated language, inspired by nature in Canada. Many believed that the C.P.'s would last forever. Includes Bliss Carmen, Charles G. D. Roberts (modernist attempts in 1930s, aka "Father of Canadian Poetry"), Duncan Campbell Scott and Archibald Lampman

Bliss Carmen, Roberts, D.C. Scott, Lampman

The Group of Seven

1920 - 1933

Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lisnmer, J.E.H. MacDonald, and F.H. Varley were all radicals

Influenced by Canadian artist Tom Thomson, the theme of the exhibition was the Algonquin landscape (TT died before formation of G7)

Utilized a new colour palette to express Canada's Northern landscape - a bold and striking post-impressionist vision of glaciers, lakes and a vast landscape

McGill Group

1925 - 1945

A.J.M Smith, F.R. Scott, Leo Kennedy and A.M. Klein

-provided local setting for Modernism in Canada (McGill University in Montreal)
-created a new aesthetic
-Smith and Scott attempted to create a distinctly Canadian verse by combining modern forms and diction with purely Canadian content. This was a response to the cultural nationalism of the period
-land based nationalism

Publications: McGill Fortnightly Review (1925-7, Scott and Smith), Canadian Mercury (1928-9, Scott Kennedy), the McGilliad (1930-1, Klein only), New Provinces (1936) and Preview (1942-6).

The Preview Group

1942 - 1945

F.R. Scott, Patrick Anderson, P.K. Page and A.M. Klein

-modernist aesthetics while incorporating social responsibility
-Page: accumulation of images, psychological, split selves
-Scott becomes a socialist
-silence from 1950s to about 1965: due to the limitations of their aesthetic to account for the reality they were addressing (a fragmented one)

Historical Events

Canadian Confederation

1867 - 1868

World War I

1914 - 1918

Part of the transitional phase. Themes of patriotism, heroism, the heroic sacrifices of men, and duty/ sacrifice. War is a noble thing.

Stock Market Crash

1929 - 1930

The Great Depression

1929 - 1939

World War II

1939 - 1945

WWII Poetry is suspicious of war and questions it; ethical and philosophical responses to devastation + death at man's hands; Layton, Birney, Anderson; how man emerges from destruction; man's relation to cosmos, man's relation to man, the ways that war is related to Canada, NOT about patriotism

Preview Group Silence

1955 - 1965

Most of the members of the preview group fall silent during this time period to addres the fragmented reality of the time

Aesthetic Movements


1912 - 1917

-The 1st organized English language literary movement (or group) connected with modernism *made up of many women!
-Poetry that is free to choose its subject, and rhythm, uses common speech and presents a vivid sensory description of an image which is hard, clear and concentrated
-Founder is Ezra Pound (followed by Amy Lowell)
-Metaphor and juxtaposition are used to render image, no indication of a relationship

Documentary Genre

1930 - 1939

Possible Seen Poems: "Day and Night", "After Hiroshima", "Call My People Home", "The Wind Our Enemy"

-Dorothy Livesay and Anne Marriott (like Klein) reject the impersonality of modernism
-modernist elements aimed at social change and "mobilizing the masses"
-include polyphonics (many voices) and anaphora (repetition at the beginning of lines, Marriott)
-reporting and deducing causes that lead to condition in order to enact social change; have reader sympathize with oppressed and have antipathy for oppressors


1955 - 1960

Jay MacPherson, Margaret Avison, and Irving Layton

-building new mythological structures to order teh world in language
-can be seen as a response to the fragmented reality exposed by the preview group
-Klein advocates for an "Adam" who will take "green inventory"