For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin

By (author): John Barton

In For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin: Selected Poems, John Barton deftly etches a poetic and personal history of the homosexual impulse from ancient to contemporary times. In the tour de force opening poem, “The Pregnant Man” (from The Photographer), Barton elliptically and with playful humour suggests the clash between this unstoppable same-sex male erotic impulse and society, hinting at the homosexual male’s resistance to society’s conforming principle at the same time that society attempts to thwart or disavow the impulse’s existence.
–Gillian Harding-Russell, Prairie Fire Review of Books


John Barton

John Barton is a poet, essayist, editor and writing mentor. His books include Polari, For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin: Selected Poems; Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay-Male Poets; We Are Not Avatars: Essays, Memoirs, Manifestos; and The Essential Douglas LePan, which won a 2020 eLit Award. Formerly the co-editor of Arc Poetry Magazine and editor of The Malahat Review, he now lives in Victoria, where he is the fifth poet laureate.


There are no awards found for this book.
Excerpts & Samples ×
Drawn from nine collections published over thirty years, the thirty-eight poems in this retrospective reveal the poetic accomplishments of John Barton. In this collection, which is introduced by R.M Vaughan, Barton explores the role of love in contemporary society, the complexity of gay experience, the persistence of homophobia, the reinvention of the idea of family, and the fear and courage that AIDS engendered and how it continues to shape the search and attainment of intimacy.This selected embraces Barton’s passions for art, literature, the city and nature, including his ongoing passion for Emily Carr with four poems drawn from West of Darkness. Other personages make cameo appearances, including Andy Warhol, Frank O’Hara, Joseph Brodsky, M.C. Escher and C. P. Cavafy. Adolf Hitler has a dialogue-free, walk-on part early on.What Barton accomplishes in For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin is best described by Barry Dempster: “This book reminds us of John Barton’s stature as a consummate social poet, a topnotch lyricist, and a risk-taker of sometimes breathtaking scale.”

Reader Reviews



160 Pages
9in * 6in * 0.5in


September 15, 2012


Nightwood Editions



Book Subjects:


Featured In:

All Books



No author posts found.

Related Blog Posts

There are no posts with this book.