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If I Could Turn and Meet Myself (eBOOK)

If I Could Turn and Meet Myself (eBOOK)

339 pages
Published:   November 1, 2010
Non-Fiction  /  Biography & Memoir
ePub:   9780864925787    $19.95

At his death in 1985, Alden Nowlan stood in the first rank of Canadian writers. Today, his poetry is beloved by Maritimers and popular across Canada and in the US as well. If I Could Turn and Meet Myself tells his life story, from his birth to a 14-year-old mother in 1933 through his impoverished childhood, his disturbed adolescence, his newspaper career, his struggle with cancer, and his tenure as writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick.

Nowlan founded his success and peace of mind on his belief that he was a composite of many selves. In 12 books of poetry, two novels, a book of stories, and 15 years of weekly columns for the Saint John Telegraph Journal, he fictionalized his own life. At the same time, he hid some of the most significant facts about his background from everyone, including those closest to him. His overall personal honesty ensured that even today people accept his "authorized version" as the full and only story.

In If I Could Turn and Meet Myself, Patrick Toner portrays a more complex and more richly humane Nowlan than any previous commentator, including Nowlan himself.
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Patrick Toner received his BA in English from St Thomas University in 1991 and his MA in English from Carleton University in 1993. He is currently a teacher and administrator in the ESL program at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John. Toner's interest in Alden Nowlan began in high school. For his MA thesis he chose to write on the religious and supernatural beliefs in Nowlan's poetry. While working on what he thought would be simple thematic criticism, he discovered the true complexity of Nowlan's life and works. His research and interviews became the inspiration for If I Could Turn and Meet Myself: The Life of Alden Nowlan. Through published materials, the Nowlan letters and papers at the University of Calgary, interviews with Nowlan's family (some of whom have never before been approachable), and conversations with a legion of Nowlan's friends and acquaintances, he has probed the life of this unusual man with understanding, insight, and Nowlan's own love of a good story.


"A good biography — better, in fact, than what we have about Earle Birney and Gwendolyn MacEwen . . . Patrick Toner treats this rich material judiciously, sympathetically engaged but keeping his distance from the cultlike devotion Nowlan often inspired." — Globe and Mail

"Patrick Toner's contribution to our appreciation of this rare and appealyingly hybrid creature is well worth the read." — National Post

"A pleasure and a revelation. The melancholy but triumphant life of Alden Nowlan has found a perfect chronicler in Patrick Toner. This wonderfully readable biography assembles and clarifies all the elements of love, hate, resentment, and ambition that made up the personality and art of a fine Canadian poet." — Robert Fulford