Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

John Smyth, L.L.D., Poet Laureat & Engineer

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Noodling away from notes on style leads to a plea for personal style. Noodling in the library… that lair of arcane lore (in the rare book room is The New Found Worlde, or Antarctike, imprinted in London in 1568, “wherein is contained wonderful and strange things,” one of which is the first mention of this country in print: “Canada, before named Baccalos… this country discovered in oure time, first by Sebastian Babat…”); among my favourite pieces, a paragraph from Henry Scadding’s history of Toronto (1873), a description of one John Smyth, probably the city’s first published poet:

A notability in the streets, he printed broadsides filled with eulogiums or satires, regulated by fees or refusals received. His productions in the public papers, by their syntactical irregularities and freedom from marks of punctuation, proved their author to be a man supra grammaticum, one possessed of a genius above commas. But his great hobby was a railroad to the Pacific, of which he brought out a lithographed map; its peculiarity was a black line conspicuously drawn across the continent.

To be continued.

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Barry Callaghan

Barry Callaghan is an award-winning author, poet, editor and publisher. He is one of Canada’s most preeminent men of letters. His most recent collection of short stories, Between Trains, was published by McArthur & Company in 2007.

Go to Barry Callaghan’s Author Page