Selected Poems of Frank Prewett


95 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-920428-86-X





Edited by Bruce Meyer and Barry Callaghan
Reviewed by Andrew Vaisius

Andrew Vaisius is a Winnipeg day-care director.


Other than a handful of poems and the transcripts of three radio broadcasts about rural Ontario given in 1954, there isn’t much to enthusiastically recommend in this lavishly produced resurrection of Frank Prewett’s poetry. The preface and introduction give us little idea as to why Prewett was pronounced a true poet by no less than Robert Graves to no less than Barry Callaghan on the island of Majorca. In fact, the introduction does a lot of name dropping — scrawny sustenance in search of true poetry.

Prewett published two books of poetry in 1921 and 1924, and as one might imagine the poems are metered and rhymed. As a whole they are sombre, and at times unrelenting in florid language. But in the end these are qualities which make them work. Prewett doesn’t elbow the reader in the ribs with lighthearted insight, but clobbers us over the head with grand questions of life like where, whence, and why. He rears back and asks pointblank those large questions we timidly approach in our modern poetic detail. He once wrote “that it is my business to translate the fields to man and the man to the fields.” And with his limited resources he certainly succeeded.

The general and most lasting impression Prewett leaves us is melancholia. A man possessed of angst, it’s his thick sense of abiding sadness that elevates the poems above what would simply be construed as egotistical agony in the present age. No enthusiasm here, but cold, measured resignation.

So build we dreams imposed on fear
And stink beneath the ground!



Prewett, Frank, “Selected Poems of Frank Prewett,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,