Souster, Raymond

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Souster, Raymond

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1921-2012

History

Raymond Souster is considered Toronto’s unofficial poet laureate. He was born in Toronto in 1921 and with the exception of war-time service spent his entire life in Toronto. He was employed as a banker with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, a profession he would hold for nearly fifty years. He was also a prolific poet, editor and publisher. He wrote more than 50 volumes of poetry, including The Colour of the Times: Collected Poems (1964), which won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1964, Hanging In (1979) and Take Me out to the Ballgame (2002). He was the founding editor for three avant-garde literary journals: Direction (1941-1946), Contact (1952-1954) and Combustion (1957-1960). He was the founding president of the League of Canadian Poets, and along with Irving Layton and Louis Dudek founded Contact Press, which first published Margaret Atwood, Gwendolyn MacEwen and Michael Ondaatje. He edited a number of anthologies including Poets 56: ten younger English Canadians (1956) and New Wave Canada: The New Explosion in Canadian Poetry (1966). He won the City of Toronto Book Award in 1980 and was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1995. He died in 2012.

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Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

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