Alden Nowlan

Alden Nowlan Poems

I come in from a walk
With you
And they ask me
If it is raining.

Down from the purple mist of trees on the mountain,
lurching through forests of white spruce and cedar,
stumbling through tamarack swamps,
came the bull moose

A mysterious naked man has been reported
on Cranston Avenue. The police are performing
the usual ceremonies with coloured lights and sirens.
Almost everyone is outdoors and strangers are conversing

Not every wino is a Holy Man.
Oh, but some of them are.
I love those who've learned
to sit comfortably

I used to broadcast at night
alone in a radio station
but I was never good at it

Angels inhabit love songs. But they’re sprites
not seraphim. The angel that up-ended
Jacob had sturdy calves, moist hairy armpits,

Why don't the records go blank
the instant the singer dies?
Oh, I know there are explanations
but they don't convince me

Alden Nowlan Biography

Alden Nowlan was born into rural poverty in Stanley, Nova Scotia, adjacent to Mosherville, and close to the small town of Windsor, Nova Scotia, along a stretch of dirt road that he would later refer to as Desolation Creek. His father, Gordon Freeman Nowlan, worked sporadically as a manual labourer. His mother, Grace Reese, was only 15 years of age when Nowlan was born, and she soon left the family, leaving Alden and her younger daughter Harriet, to the care of their paternal grandmother. The family discouraged education as a waste of time, and Nowlan left school after only four grades. At the age of 14, he went to work in the village sawmill. At the age of 16, Nowlan discovered the regional library. Each weekend he would walk or hitchhike eighteen miles to the library to get books, and secretly began to educate himself. "I wrote (as I read) in secret." Nowlan remembered. "My father would as soon have seen me wear lipstick." Career and later Life At 19, Nowlan's artfully embroidered résumé landed him a job with Observer, a newspaper in Hartland, New Brunswick. While working at the Observer, Nowlan began writing books of poetry, the first of which was published by Fredericton's Fiddlehead Poetry Books. Nowlan eventually settled permanently in New Brunswick. In 1963, he married Claudine Orser, a typesetter on his former paper, and moved to Saint John with her and her son, John, whom he adopted. He became the night editor for the Saint John Telegraph Journal and continued to write poetry. In 1967, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his collection Bread, Wine and Salt was awarded the Governor General's Award for Poetry. In 1966, Nowlan was diagnosed with throat cancer. His health forced him to give up his job, but at the same time the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton offered him the position of Writer-in-Residence. He remained in the position until his death on June 27, 1983. Awards and recognition Nowlan's most notable literary achievements include the Governor General's Award for Bread, Wine and Salt (1967) and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He took over the job Writer-in-Residence at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton from close friend Warren Kinthompson in 1968 and kept it until his death in 1983. He has a provincial poetry award named in his honour. Nowlan is one of Canada's most popular 20th-century poets, and his appearance in the anthology Staying Alive (2002) has helped to spread his popularity beyond Canada. In the 1970s, Nowlan met and became close friends with theatre director Walter Learning. The two collaborated on a number of plays, including Frankenstein, The Dollar Woman, and The Incredible Murder of Cardinal Tosca. The home of the Graduate Student Association at the University of New Brunswick is called the Alden Nowlan House. Nowlan is buried in the Poets' Corner of the Forest Hill cemetery in Fredericton, New Brunswick.)

The Best Poem Of Alden Nowlan

The Masks Of Love

I come in from a walk
With you
And they ask me
If it is raining.

I didn't notice
But I'll have to give them
The right answer
Or they'll think I'm crazy.

Alden Nowlan Comments

Forest Li 07 December 2013

hello Alden, what does this poem mean. I am a Chinese, difficult for me to understand

13 20 Reply
John Richter 10 August 2015

An absolutely wonderful and talented poet. I'm so sad that 55 years of my life have passed before I took notice of him. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know. Alden is certainly the poster child of that.

10 2 Reply
Angela 08 November 2018

Alden Nowlan is one of those rare poets one finds only if searching for the unusual, the stark, the capital T Truth. His gift of poetic breadth moves from journalistic to surreal and whatever he aims at, he hits his mark.

5 1 Reply
Pamela 28 November 2020

Alden Nowlan was not only one of the greatest Canadian poets but one of the greatest poets of modern time. He thoughtfully inferred so many flaws of 'modern' man through his poetry. I am proud that he was a Canadian and sad that he is dead. He was like a 'poet priest' guiding us to see how we undermine the beauty of being in this world.

0 0 Reply
Carter.Icey 29 February 2020

4745 E Haggin Ct

0 1 Reply
David Merrifield 04 March 2019

This is a very fine Canadian poet. Alas he's a man!

1 3 Reply
David Merrifield 04 March 2019

One of the finest poets! Read him slowly. Languish in the words. Be struck by them.

2 0 Reply
gggggggggg 16 January 2019


1 1 Reply

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