Born in 1940 in Ottawa, Ontario, legendary poet and musician William Hawkins is one of the most important artists to emerge from Canada's capital. He published six books from 1964-1974, attended the 1963 UBC Summer Poetry Seminar, organized poetry readings at Ottawa's infamous Le Hibou Coffeehouse, wrote songs and performed in bands (The Children, Heavenly Blue), and published widely in Canada's most important little magazines of the 1960s before retreating into silence in the 1970s and working as a cab driver until his retirement in 2012. The Collected Poems of William Hawkins gathers Hawkins's complete output. His books are printed alongside previously unpublished and uncollected poems including early magazine publications, the long-lost book Sweet and Sour Nothings, poems from the time of his extended silence, as well as all work produced since his gradual re-appearance in the 1990s. This volume presents the generous, defiant, idiosyncratic, and compelling work of William Hawkins in its entirety, making possible the renewed attention that this significant body of work deserves.
William Hawkins has lived most of his life in Ottawa, with side trips to Vancouver, Toronto, Tallahassee and Mexico. He is a veteran driver of the Blue Line taxi corps and includes prominent MPs, judges, journalists and bagmen among his regular clients. In recent years, Hawkins made a CD of his best songs, also titled Dancing Alone, and was subject of an onstage tribute at the Ottawa Folk Festival for his contributions to the music scene. His previous collections of poetry include Ottawa Poems (Kitchener: weed/flower press, 1966), The Gift of Space (Toronto: New Press, 1971) and Dancing Alone: Selected Poems 1960-1990 (Fredericton: Broken Jaw Press, 2005). In March 2013, William Hawkins was inducted in VERSeOttawa's Hall of Honour in recognition of his contribution to the Ottawa poetry community.
Cameron Anstee lives and writes in Ottawa, where he runs Apt. 9 Press and holds a Ph.D. in Canadian Literature from the University of Ottawa. He is the editor of The Collected Poems of William Hawkins (Chaudiere Books, 2015).
"Everyone should read these poems." Bruce Cockburn (Introduction to Dancing Alone: Selected Poems, Broken Jaw Press, 2005).
"William Hawkins is a rarity among poets: he assimilated early influences from Beat and Black Mountain sources to emerge with a unique poetic voice, ideally suited to his mordant, incisively ironic sensibility. This book, collating and documenting Hawkins's entire poetic output, is a signal literary event. It reminds us that, like Leonard Cohen, Hawkins is not only a wonderful songwriter but a gifted poet with much to tell the world." Roy MacSkimming
"This is a grand addition to the William Hawkins revival. So good to have this comprehensive gathering of his poems. Bill's poems are imbued with his sardonic wit and the affecting poignancy of his plaintive existential cry. Bill was a dynamo in poetry and music circles in the 1960s and a mentor to grateful young musicians and poets including me. Cameron Anstee is to be praised for bringing this project to fruition. His meticulous notes on the poems are masterpieces of textual and bibliographic research. This is a truly wonderful book!" Nelson Ball
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