Eli MacLaren is an Assistant Professor of English
at McGill University in Montreal. Subjects taught include Canadian
poetry and fiction; First Nations writers; bibliography and the
history of the book. We met to discuss an article he wrote for
Canadian Poetry entitled ‘Significant Little Offerings: The Origin
of the Ryerson Poetry Chap-Books, 1925–26'.
We talk, among other things, about the literary publishing
environment in Canada during the 1920s, Lorne Pierce's idealistic
nation building, risk, the desire for a national literature,
restrictive copyright laws, Confederation poet Charles G.D.
Roberts, Ryerson's Makers of Canadian Literature series, authors
covering publishing costs, romantic versus modernist poetry, the
arts and craft look of the chap-books, poetry's goal of moving the
average reader and making sense of death, author's lives informing
their poetry, shining light on neglected works, the origins of
chap-books, and the birth of the small press movement in