Through Darkling Air

By Peter Sanger

Through Darkling Air
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Through Darkling Air is an extensive study of the life and work of Canadian poet Richard Outram (1930–2005) in which Peter Sanger provides detailed analysis of Outram’s poetry, his influences and allusions, and of his collaboration with his wife, visual artist Barbara Howard. ... Read more


Overview

Through Darkling Air is an extensive study of the life and work of Canadian poet Richard Outram (1930–2005) in which Peter Sanger provides detailed analysis of Outram’s poetry, his influences and allusions, and of his collaboration with his wife, visual artist Barbara Howard. Through wide-reading of both the Western literary canon and of Outram’s own oeuvre, Sanger situates Outram in the literary tradition while introducing readers to Outram’s life, ideas and work. In the process, Sanger demonstrates a style of reading and discussing poetry which is uncommon in contemporary criticism, working methodically through Outram’s catalogue in order to arrive at a panoramic perspective that is at once telescopic and microscopic.

As well as chronicling Outram’s accomplishments as a poet, mapping the many interconnections between his poems and their outward influences, Through Darkling Air celebrates Outram’s partnership with Barbara Howard, in particular their collaboration on the limited edition broadsides and handmade books issued from their Gauntlet Press imprint between 1960 and 2001. This book includes over 75 colour and black & white reproductions depicting Outram and Howard’s most noteworthy productions. It also includes many key poems from Outram’s more scarce collections reproduced in their entirety.

Sanger first discovered Outram’s work in 1995: “My eye was drawn by the spare beauty of two chapbooks. When I read the books I found I did not always understand them. Sometimes it was as if I were coping with another language. But I had no trouble seeing and hearing the dance of Outram’s intelligence, his wit, his underdrifts of understated grief, his companion, his occasional prophetic anger directed at cant, opportunism and human predation, especially of the natural world. I knew immediately that I had encountered a poet whose work I would read for the rest of my life. Through Darkling Air is an attempt to honour a principle Outram shared and lived with his late wife, the painter, wood-engraver and book designer, Barbara Howard: love and imagination are synonymous and eternal, and the fool is wise who knows that much. ”

Peter Sanger

Peter Sanger chose Nova Scotia as his home more than 30 years ago, after ranging far and wide. He lives in a period farmhouse in a rural community. His first book of poetry was published in 1983. He currently teaches English at the Nova Scotia College of Agriculture.

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