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Monday, 15 December 2008

John Glassco Born 99 Years Ago Today

One of the most intriguing and cosmopolitan of all Canadian poets is John Glassco - Montreal-born, Paris-forged, and Eastern Townships-retired - whose 99th birthday this would be today (15th December) if he had not died in January, 1981. Lately, some of his prose has come back into the limelight. His centenary will be quickly followed by a biography from Brian Busby that I, for one, cannot wait to read.

This excerpt from "Brummel at Calais" is interesting for a number of reasons, not least because English-French aestheticism and stylishness have always been a part of modern Montreal poetics, much more so than in the rest of Canada. I am surprised that John Ashbery has not written about John Glassco, since in some ways Glassco is a precursor of his, in francophile interest.

An art of being, nothing but being, the grace
Of perfect self-assertion based on nothing,
As in our vanity's cause against the void
He strikes his elegant blow, the solemn report of those
Who have done nothing and will never die.
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