Gwendolyn MacEwen

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Gwendolyn MacEwen
Gwendolyn MacEwen.jpg
Born Gwendolyn Margaret MacEwen
(1941-09-01)1 September 1941
Toronto, Ontario
Died 29 November 1987(1987-11-29) (aged 46)
Toronto, Ontario
Occupation Writer
Language English
Nationality Canada Canadian
Education High school dropout, autodidact
Notable awards Governor General's Award

Gwendolyn Margaret MacEwen (1 September 1941 – 29 November 1987) was a Canadian poet and novelist.[1] A "sophisticated, wide-ranging and thoughtful writer,"[2] she published more than 20 books in her life. "A sense of magic and mystery from her own interests in the Gnostics, Ancient Egypt and magic itself, and from her wonderment at life and death, makes her writing unique.... She's still regarded by most as one of the best Canadian poets."[3]

Life[edit]

MacEwen was born in Toronto, Ontario.[4][5] Her mother, Elsie, spent much of her life as a patient in mental health institutions. Her father, Alick, suffered from alcoholism.[6] Gwendolyn MacEwen grew up in the High Park area of the city, and attended Western Technical-Commercial School.[7]

Her first poem was published in The Canadian Forum when she was only 17, and she left school at 18 to pursue a writing career.[4] By 18 she had written her first novel, Julian the Magician.[3]

"She was small (5'4") and slight, with a round pale face, huge blue eyes usually rimmed in kohl (Egyptian eye shadow), and long dark straight hair."[3]

Her first book of poetry, The Drunken Clock, was published in 1961.[2] She married poet Milton Acorn, 19 years her senior, in 1962,[6] although they divorced two years later.

She published over twenty books, in a variety of genres. She also wrote numerous radio docudramas for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), including a "much-admired radio drama", Terror and Erebus, in 1965.[8]

With her second husband, Greek musician Niko Tsingos, MacEwen opened a Toronto coffeehouse, The Trojan Horse, in 1972. She and Tsingos translated some of the poetry of contemporary Greek writer Yiannis Ritsos (published in her 1981 book Trojan Women).[8]

She taught herself to read Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, and French, and translated writers from each of those languages.[8] In 1978 her translation of Euripides' drama The Trojan Women was first performed in Toronto.[9]

Sculpture of MacEwen in Gwendolyn MacEwen Park

She served as writer in residence at the University of Western Ontario in 1985, and the University of Toronto in 1986 and 1987.[4]

MacEwen died in 1987,[4] at the age of 46, of health problems related to alcoholism.[6] She is buried in Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery.[10]

Writing[edit]

"A sophisticated, wide-ranging and thoughtful writer," says The Canadian Encyclopedia, MacEwen "displayed a commanding interest in magic and history as well as an elaborate and penetrating dexterity in her versecraft."[2]

Her two novels – Julian the Magician, dealing with the ambiguous relationship between the hermetic philosophies of the early Renaissance and Christianity; and King of Egypt, King of Dreams, which imaginatively reconstructed the life and religious reformation of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton – blend fantasy and history.[8]

Recognition[edit]

MacEwen won the Governor General's Award in 1969 for her poetry collection The Shadow Maker.[2] She was awarded a second Governor General's Award posthumously in 1987 for Afterworlds.[11]

Other awards and prizes MacEwen won include the CBC New Canadian Writing Contest for poetry in 1965; the A.J.M. Smith Poetry Award in 1973; the Borestone Mountain Poetry Award in 1983; the CBC Literary Competition, for short story in 1983; and the Du Maurier Awards, gold and silver for poetry, in 1983.[12]

Her writing has been translated into many languages including Chinese, French, German, and Italian.[7]

Rosemary Sullivan published a biography of MacEwen, Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen, in 1995, which itself won the Governor General's Award, for non-fiction in 1995.[4]

Fictional tributes to MacEwen have been published by Margaret Atwood (the short story "Isis in Darkness"), and Lorne S. Jones (the novel Mighty Oaks).

A one-woman play by Linda Griffiths, Alien Creature: A Visitation from Gwendolyn MacEwen, won the Dora Mavor Moore Award and the Chalmers Award in 2000.[13]

Gwendolyn MacEwen Park[edit]

Gwendolyn MacEwen Park
Gwendolyn MacEwen Park spring 2012.JPG
Location Walmer Rd at Lowther Ave, Toronto
Coordinates 43°40′07″N 79°24′22″W / 43.66861°N 79.40611°W / 43.66861; -79.40611
Operated by Toronto Parks

The former Walmer Road Park, in The Annex neighbourhood of Toronto, was renamed Gwendolyn MacEwen Park in her honor in 1994.

On September 9, 2006, a bronze bust of MacEwen by her friend, sculptor John McCombe Reynolds, was unveiled in the park.[7]

The park had been a grassy traffic circle in the middle of Walmer Road[14] at Lowther Avenue, but a $300,000 makeover in 2010, expanded the park and narrowed the surrounding roads.[15] The unique redesigned greenspace reopend July 21, 2010, and writer Claudia Dey read one of MacEwen's poems.[16]

Media related to Gwendolyn MacEwen Park at Wikimedia Commons

Publications[edit]

Poetry[edit]

Fiction[edit]

Non-fiction[edit]

Children's books[edit]

Translated[edit]

  • Euripides. The Trojan Women. 1979.[8]
  • Aristophanes. The Birds. 1983.[8]

Except where noted, bibliographic information courtesy of Brock University.[5]

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Jan Bartley. Invocations: the poetry and prose of Gwendolyn MacEwen. 1983.
  • Rosemary Sullivan. Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen. Toronto: Harper Collins, 1995.

Articles[edit]

  • Atwood, Margaret. “MacEwen’s Muse.” Canadian Literature 45 (1970): 24-32.
  • Barrett, Elizabeth. “A Tour de Force.” Evidence 8 (1964): 140-143.
  • Davey, Frank. “Gwendolyn MacEwen: The Secret of Alchemy.” Open Letter (second series) 4 (1973): 5-23.
  • Di Michele, Mary. “Gwendolyn MacEwen: 1941-1987.” Books in Canada 17.1 (1988): 6.
  • Gerry, Thomas M. “Green Yet Free of Seasons: Gwendolyn MacEwen and the Mystical Tradition of Canadian Poetry.” Studies in Canadian Literature 16.2 (1991/1992): 147-161.
  • Gillam, Robyn. “The Gaze of a Stranger: Gwendolyn MacEwen’s Hieratic Eye.” Paragraph 13.2 (1991): 10-13.
  • Godfrey, Dave. “Figments of a Northern Mind.” Tamarack Review 31 (1964): 90-91.
  • Gose, E.B. “They Shall Have Arcana.” Canadian Literature 21 (1964): 36-45.
  • Harding Russell, Gillian. “Gwendolyn MacEwen’s ‘The Nine Arcana of the Kings’ as Creative Myth and Paradigm.” English Studies in Canada 15.2 (1988): 204-217.
  • Harding Russell, Gillian. “Iconic Mythopoeia in MacEwen’s The T.E. Lawrence Poems.” Studies in Canadian Literature 9.1 (1984): 95-107.
  • Helwig, Maggie. “The Shadowmaker Confirmed the Poet in Me.” Catholic New Times 21.19 (1997): 13,14.
  • Jones, D.G. “Language of Our Time.” Canadian Literature 29 (1966): 67-69.
  • Kelly, M. T. “Thoughts From a Friend (Profile of Gwendolyn MacEwen).” Canadian Woman Studies 9.2 (1988): 89.
  • Kemp, Penn. “A Musing I Would Like to have Shared with Gwendolyn MacEwen.” Tessera 5 (1988): 49-57.
  • “MacEwen Possessed a Talent that was Fragile, Precocious.” Globe and Mail (Metro Edition) 2 Dec 1987: A10, C5.
  • Marshall, Joyce. “Remembering Gwendolyn MacEwen.” Brick 45 (1993): 61-65.
  • Marshall, Tom. “Several Takes on Gwendolyn MacEwen.” Quarry 38.1 (1989): 76-83.
  • “Obituary: Author.” Gwendolyn MacEwen. Quill and Quire 54.3 (1988): 62.
  • Potvin, Elisabeth. “Gwendolyn MacEwen and Female Spiritual Desire.” Canadian Poetry 28 (1991): 18-39.
  • Purdy, Al. “Death in the Family.” Saturday Night 103.5 (1988): 65-66.
  • Ringrose, Christopher. “Vision Enveloped in Night.” Canadian Literature 53 (1972): 102-104.
  • Sowton, Ian. “To Improvise an Eden.” Edge 2 (1964): 119-124.
  • Tsingos, Nikolas. “Poems for Gwendolyn MacEwen.” Descant 24.4 (1993/ 1994): 41.
  • Warwick, Ellen D. “To Seek a Single Symmetry.” Canadian Literature 71 (1976): 21-34.
  • Wilkinson, Shelagh. “Gwendolyn MacEwen's Trojan Women: Old Myth into New Life.” Canadian Woman Studies 8.3 (1987): 81-83.
  • Wood, Brent. “From The Rising Fire to Afterworlds: The Visionary Circle in the Poetry of Gwendolyn MacEwen.” Canadian Poetry 47 (2000): 40-69.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Gwendolyn MacEwen," NNDB.com Web, Apr. 24, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d "MacEwen, Gwendolyn," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 1264.
  3. ^ a b c John Oughton, "Gwendolyn MacEwen," Young Soul Rebels, YoungPoets.ca, Web, Apr. 24, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e ""Gwendolyn MacEwen: Biography", Canadian Poetry Online, Web, Apr. 23, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Gwendolyn MacEwen," Canadian Women Poets, BrockU.ca, Web, Apr. 22, 2001.
  6. ^ a b c "Gwendolyn MacEwen: Comments by Writers and Critics," Canadian Poetry Online, Web, Apr. 24, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c "The Gwendolyn MacEwen Park Memorial". The family of the late poet Gwendolyn MacEwen would like to announce the unveiling scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 9, 2006. Akimbo.ca. Retrieved March 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g George Woodcock & Rosemary Sullivan, " Gwendolyn MacEwen Biography," Encyclopedia of Literature, 8264, JRank.org, Web, Apr. 24, 2011.
  9. ^ Michaela Milde, Review of Euripides' Trojan Women, Didaskalia I:1, Web, Apr. 22, 2011.
  10. ^ "Our Poets at Rest: Gwendolyn MacEwen," Arc, Nov. 15, 2010, Web, Apr. 22, 2011.
  11. ^ http://www.canadacouncil.ca/NR/rdonlyres/CCA1B1A6-59E5-4748-BFEE-B64313E92624/0/cumulativewinners20091.pdf
  12. ^ "Gendolyn MacEwen: Awards and Honours," Canadian Poetry Online, Apr. 24, 2011.
  13. ^ "Alien Creature: A Visitation from Gwendolyn MacEwen," LindaGriffiths.ca, Web, Apr. 24, 2011.
  14. ^ "To dedicate certain land known as Walmer Road Circle, for public park purposes". By-law 20991. City of Toronto. 24 May 1960. Retrieved April 2012. 
  15. ^ Bert Archer (July 28, 2010). "$300,000 makes Gwendolyn MacEwan Park bigger, less round". Development News. Yonge Street Media. Retrieved March 2012. 
  16. ^ "Claudia Dey reads at the re-opening of Gwendolyn MacEwen Park". Coach House Books. Retrieved March 2012. 

External links[edit]