Field Marks: The Poetry of Don McKay

selected with an introduction by Méira Cook

This volume features thirty-five of Don McKay’s best poems, which are selected with a contextualizing introduction by Méira Cook that probes wilderness and representation in McKay, and the canny, quirky, thoughtful, and sometimes comic self-consciousness the poems adumbrate. Included is McKay’s afterword written especially for this volume in which McKay reflects on his own writing process—its relationship to the earth and to metamorphosis.

Don McKay has published eight books of poetry. He won the Governor General’s Award in 1991 (for Night Field) and in 2000 (for Another Gravity), a National Magazine Award (1991), and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry in 1984 (for Birding, Or Desire). Don McKay was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize for Camber and was the Canadian winner of the 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize for Strike/Slip. Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, McKay has been active as an editor, creative writing teacher, and university instructor, as well as a poet. He has taught at the University of Western Ontario, the University of New Brunswick, The Banff Centre, The Sage Hill Writing Experience, and the BC Festival of the Arts. He has served as editor and publisher of Brick Books since 1975 and from 1991 to 1996 as editor of The Fiddlehead. He resides in British Columbia.


Field Marks is a superb introduction to an accomplished poet and will motivate the reader to search out his other published works.”

—Jason Warrant, The Midwest Book Review

“McKay presents a friendly persona who guides us through the natural world knowledgeably, while paying attention to the wanderer’s imaginative response to the surroundings [. . .] McKay’s lyre sounds the notes in editor Méira Cook’s selection of poems such as ‘Meditation on Shovels’ or ‘How to Imagine an Albatross.’”

—Paul Milton, Canadian Literature

Méira Cook does Don McKay proud with her thoughtful and informative introduction.” [Read full review »]

—Michael Dennis


Song for the Song of the Dogged Birdwatcher (Introduction, excerpt)

This is the imaginary essay I have not written, but a good place to end or begin, I think: rereading McKay’s poems with dogs in mind. Those breathy, brothy, dogged creatures who push their noses into human hands, dash headfirst into trains and headlong through plate glass windows. Who stand up, dazed, and live to wag again.

One thing that reading Don McKay has taught me is that every ending should be partly imaginary and slightly incomplete. Every end should wag, just a little.


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