photo by John Garner
DANCING ALONE: Selected Poems
by William Hawkins
Preface by Bruce Cockburn
Introduction by Roy MacSkimming
Release: April 2005
poetry (BISAC: POE011000)
All rights available
167 pp / 5.5 x 8.5 / trade paper
Broken Jaw Press’ Cauldron Books, 5
full size book cover
Dancing Alone: Selected Poems by William Hawkins . . . is more a piece of rediscovery than discovery . . . [A] poet of raw power and well-disguised technical skill.
The other joy of this collection is the long, stylish, funny and evocative introduction by Roy MacSkimming . . . The piece is quite the most effective preface to anything I've read in a long time.
—George Fetherling, The New Brunswick Reader
When i started writing songs, it was to put music to Bill Hawkins’ lyrics . . . i quickly fell under the spell of this charismatic man who became a kind of mentor . . . Everyone should read these poems.
—Bruce Cockburn, from the Preface
Here is a distinctive, inimitable voice in Canadian poetry . . . This very welcome volume gives a new generation, and those who missed it the first time around, an opportunity to discover William Hawkins’ poetry in all its perversely compelling, idiosyncratic wonder.
—Roy MacSkimming, from the Introduction
The poems in Dancing Alone are drawn from the six small-press classics, all out of print, that William Hawkins published between 1964 and 1974 plus some new poems. A contemporary of George Bowering, Victor Coleman and Michael Ondaatje, Hawkins appeared in Raymond Souster’s landmark anthology New Wave Canada and in Oxford’s Modern Canadian Verse, where editor A.J.M. Smith positioned him between Margaret Atwood and Gwendolyn MacEwen. Readers will discover in Hawkins’ work an inimitably haunting poetic voice.
Hawkins was also the central figure of a richly creative Ottawa-based music scene. His fugitive pickup bands included Bruce Cockburn, David Wiffen, Colleen Peterson, Amos Garrett, Darius Brubeck and Sneezy Waters. Hawkins calls himself “a semi-retired hard rocker and high roller.”
William Hawkins has lived most of his life in Ottawa, with side trips to Vancouver, Toronto, Tallahassee and Mexico. He is a veteran driver of the Blue Line taxi corps and includes prominent MPs, judges, journalists and bagmen among his regular clients. In recent years, Hawkins made a CD of his best songs, also titled Dancing Alone, and was subject of an onstage tribute at the Ottawa Folk Festival for his contributions to the music scene. His previous collections of poetry include Ottawa Poems (Kitchener: weed/flower press, 1966), and The Gift of Space (Toronto: New Press, 1971).
Cover art by Chris Wells, Hunter River, PEI.
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20 April 2005, 7:30 pm: book launchOttawa International Writers Festival @ Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington, Ottawa, ON
17 July 2005, 2 pm: Odd Sundays Reading Series, Molly’s Coffee House, 554 Queen St, Fredericton, NB
© copyright Joe Blades/Broken Jaw Press Inc. 2004.