The War of 1812 as it occurred in the western districts of Upper
Canada represents the most violent conflict ever fought on North
American soil prior to the American civil war. Published on the
200th anniversary of the invasion of Canada, Black Moss Press
anthology "An Unfinished War" edited by Canada's foremost
anthologist John B. Lee brings together the best literaturefrom the
past along with new work by major Canadian writers. Beginning with
a poem written in 1811 by John Strachan, "the fighting bishop of
York," and including many fine excerpts from boy soldier Major John
Richardson's novel, "The Canadian Brothers," Lee's selections also
include new work by elder statesman of Canadian poetry, Raymond
Souster, Governor General Award winner Douglas Glover, and many
more authors of great renown including several Poets Laureate.
Major John Richardson's fictional description of life as a prisoner
of war based upon his own first hand experience as a captive at the
Battle of the Thames is juxtaposed to Doug Glover's new short
story, "A Flame, a Burst of Light," wherein Glover relates the
hallucinatory experiences of a fictional captive. The poem, "An Ode
to the High Park Grenadier," tells the gothic story of a love
affair between a woman walking though High Park in Toronto and the
ghost of the grenadier who drowned in Grenadier pond during the
battle of Fort York. Griffin Poetry prize winning poet, Margaret
Avison's poem "The Valiant Vacationist," Barrie Poet Laureate Bruce
Meyer's poem, "Victoria Square," and John B. Lee's poem, "Old
Ironsides, Boston," all remind us of our present day relationship
with events, places and artifacts of great historical significance.
As we commemorate the anniversary of this long ago war, and as we
struggle to honour the past, the literature gathered together in
this important and fascinating anthology reminds us of truth of
Nobel Laureate William Faulkner's words, "The past is never dead.
It's not even the past." From the Battle of Tippecanoe to the
Battle of New Orleans, from the death of Techumseh to the Ancaster
Bloody Assize, from the surrender of Fort Detroit to the burning of
York, from Billy Green, hero of the Battle of Stoney Creek to Swain
Corliss, hero of Malcolm's Mills, these pieces bring to life the
lives of both real and fictional heroes of a long ago though
unforgotten war. For his part, Wallace Stegner, in an excerpt from
his short story, "The Medicine Line," puts it this way: ..".It used
to antagonize me, wondering whether or not the Canadians really did
defeat the Americans at the Battle of Lundy's Lane during the War
of 1812. ...The importance of the battle depended entirely on which
side of the frontier you viewed it from."
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