Richard Outram

Richard Outram

Richard Daley Outram (April 9, 1930January 21, 2005) was a Canadian poet.


Outram was born in Oshawa, Ontario. His mother, née Mary Muriel Daley, was the daughter of a Methodist minister centrally involved in the negotiations which led to the creation of the United Church of Canada. While working as a schoolteacher, Outram's mother met and married his father, Alfred Allan Outram, in Port Hope, Ontario. Allan Outram, son of the owner of the hardware store in Port Hope, served and was wounded in the First World War. By profession, he was an engineer. The couple moved to Toronto. From 1944 to 1949, Outram attended highschool in Leaside, which was then still on the outskirts of the city.

From 1949 to 1953, he was enrolled in the Honours B.A., English and Philosophy course at Victoria College in the University of Toronto. Two of his teachers, the philosopher Emil Fackenheim and the critic Northrop Frye, with the latter of whom Outram studied Milton, Spenser and (when E.J. Pratt became ill) Shakespeare, had a profound and lasting effect on him. During the summers of 1950 and 1951, Outram also served as an officer cadet in the reserve system of the Royal Canadian Navy, aboard frigates in the Bay of Fundy and at HMCS Stadacona in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

After graduation, Outram worked with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as a television stagehand for a year, then he moved to London, England, where he worked as a television stagehand for the British Broadcasting Corporation between 1955 and 1956. During those years he began to write poetry. During them also, he met his future wife, the Toronto painter and wood-engraver Barbara Howard. They returned to Toronto to marry in 1957. Outram went back to work with the CBC, first, again, as a television stagehand, then as a stage crew foreman, a position he held until early retirement at the age of sixty in 1990.

Between 1966 and 2001, Outram wrote ten commercially published collections of poetry ("South of North: Images of Canada, with drawings by Thoreau MacDonald" was published posthumously in 2007). In addition to these commercial publications, Outram has issued over a dozen other collections of poetry and prose under the imprint of the Gauntlet Press which he founded with his wife in the 1960s. ["A Brief History of Time at The Gauntlet Press (Or, Some Days the Earth Moved)" [] ] Its limited editions (60-80 copies) of four small collections by Outram, "Creatures" (1972), "Thresholds" (1973), "Locus" (1974) and "Arbor" (1976), illustrated with wood-engravings by Howard, are prized by collectors and can be found in public collections such as the University of Toronto Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, which is also the repository for Outram's personal papers and manuscripts.

The Gauntlet Press also issued a series of broadsheets of Outram's poems throughout the 1970s and 1980s, all of them designed (and many frequently illustrated) by Howard. In the early 1990s the Gauntlet Press switched from letterpress to digitally based production on the computer. As well as his poem and prose broadsheets, the press during this electronic phase issued nine small books by Outram in limited editions. Among them are "Around & About the Toronto Islands" (1993); "Tradecraft and Other Uncollected Poems" (1994); "Eros Descending" (1995); "Ms Cassie" (2000) and "Lightfall" (2001). Many of the poems from these Gauntlet Press publications (with the exception of "Ms Cassie" and "Lightfall" ) have been gathered into the commercially available "Dove Legend and Other Poems".

The Poetry

In a 1988 essay titled "Hard Truths", the literary critic Alberto Manguel wrote: “Richard Outram’s metaphysical message is neither fashionable nor easy to grasp, but he is one of the best poets writing in English.” [Alberto Manguel: "Hard Truths", S"aturday Night", April, 1988] Outram's work transcends fashion, expressing a private voice of public consequence in poems of great formal variety and range of tone. He is a most mercurial writer, delighting in satire and farce, in low and high comedy, in metaphysical poems of intricate philosophical complexity and dignity, in straightforward or not so straightforward lyrical love poems, and in dramatic soliloquies voiced for outrageously imagined characters, including some animals. Outram may write straightforward narrative poems in which, as is not usually the case in contemporary narrative poems, things really do happen consecutively. He can also write subtle parables and allegories, or commit squibs and puns or propose riddles and anagrams. His poetry must be read while attending to the full meaning of every word. ["Richard Outram: A Preface and Selection by Peter Sanger", "The Antigonish Review", 2001 [] ] It has been said that the best companion a reader can have when trying to fully appreciate an Outram poem is an etymological dictionary. ["Richard Outram: A Preface and Selection by Peter Sanger", "The Antigonish Review", 2001] It has also been argued that there is, at the same time, an ‘other’, more intuitively accessible side to his poetry. [Carmine Starnino: "The Other Outram" (from "A Lover's Quarrel: Essays and Reviews", The Porcupine's Quill, Erin ON, 2004. ISBN 0-88984-241-8)]

Many years before his death, Outram wrote what he often referred to as his own epitaph: [Michael Carbert: "Faith and Resilience: An Interview with Richard Outram", The New Quarterly #89, Winter/Spring 2004]

"Epitaph for an Angler"

"To haunt the silver river and to wait"
"Were second nature to him, his own bait:"
"Unravelling at last a constant knot,"
"He cast his line clear: and was promptly caught."



* "Eight Poems". Toronto: Tortoise Press, 1959.
* "Exsultate, Jubilate". Toronto: Macmillan Canada, 1966.
* "Scarlatti at Improvisation" (pamphlet). Toronto: Aliquando Press, 1972.
* "Creatures". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1972.
* "Railway" (broadside). Toronto: Aliquando Press, 1973.
* "Seer". With drawings by Barbara Howard. Toronto: Aliquando Press, 1973.
* "Thresholds". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1973.
* "Below Zero" (broadside). Toronto: Aliquando Press, 1974.
* "Locus". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1974.
* "Turns and Other Poems". London, Toronto: Chatto and Windus with the Hogarth Press, 1975, and Anson-Cartwright Editions, 1976. ISBN 0-919974-00-7
* "Arbor". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1976.
* "The Promise of Light". Toronto: Anson-Cartwright Editions, 1979. ISBN 0-919974-05-8
* "Selected Poems (1960-1980)". Toronto: Exile Editions, 1984. ISBN 0-920428-85-1
* "Man in Love". Erin, Ont.: Porcupine's Quill, 1985. ISBN 0-88984-069-5
* "Hiram and Jenny". Erin, Ont.: Porcupine's Quill, 1989. ISBN 0-88984-118-7 []
* "Mogul Recollected". Erin, Ont.: Porcupine's Quill, 1993. ISBN 0-88984-174-8 []
* "Around & About the Toronto Islands". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1993.
* "Hiram and Jenny, Unpublished Poems". Ottawa: Food for Thought Books, 1994.
* "Tradecraft and Other Uncollected Poems". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1994.
* "Eros Descending". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1995.
* "Benedict Abroad". St. Thomas Poetry Series, Toronto, 1998. ISBN 0-9697802-0-x (Winner of the 1999 City of Toronto Book Award) []
* "Ms Cassie". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 2000.
* "Dove Legend & Other Poems". Erin, Ont.: Porcupine's Quill, 2001. ISBN 0-88984-221-3 []
* "Lightfall". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 2001.
* "Nine Shiners". Port Hope: n.p., 2003.
* "Brief Immortals". Port Hope: n.p., 2003.
* "South of North: Images of Canada, with drawings by Thoreau MacDonald". Erin, Ont.: Porcupine's Quill, 2007. ISBN 978-0-88984-298-4 []


* "An Exercise in Exegesis". Toronto: Arts & Letters Club, 1992.
* "Corrections to the Cave". Toronto: Arts & Letters Club, 1992.
* "Peripatetics". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1994.
* "And Growes to Something of Great Constancie ...", being a SYZYGY". Toronto: Gauntlet Press, 1994.
* "Divers Arrows". Toronto: Arts & Letters Club, 1995.
* "Notes on William Blake's 'The Tyger"'. Toronto: Arts & Letters Club, 1997.
* "Stardust". Toronto: Arts & Letters Club, 1998.
* "Arrows of Desire". Toronto: Hart House, 2000.
* "Arrows of Desire". Toronto: Arts & Letters Club, 2001, (a revised version of the above).
* "Swann: A Literary Mystery" (a brief talk on Carol Shields' book of that title, and on the poems included therein; no place or date of talk given [2001?] )
* "Rage & Outrage: Poetry & the Media". Toronto: Arts & Letters Club, 2002.
* "Poetic Practice". Toronto: Arts & Letters Club, 2003. []


* "Christian Poetry in Canada", David A. Kent, ed., ECW Press, 1989. ISBN 1550220152
* "Literature in English", W. H. New and W. E. Messenger, eds., Prentice Hall, Scarborough, ON, 1993. ISBN 0135347777
* "In Fine Form: The Canadian Book of Form Poetry", Kate Braid & Sandy Shreve, eds., Polestar/Raincoast Books, Vancouver, BC, 2005. ISBN 1-55192-777-2
* "Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets", Zachariah Wells, ed., Biblioasis, Emeryville, ON, 2008. ISBN 978-1-897231-44-9

Works about Outram and/or the Gauntlet Press


* Horne, Alan and Guy Upjohn, eds. "Fine Printing: The Private Press in Canada". Toronto: Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, 1995. Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, 18 April - 16 June, 1995. ISBN 0-7727-6015-2
* Sanger, Peter. "‘Her Kindled Shadow ..’: An Introduction to the Work of Richard Outram". Antigonish, N.S.: Antigonish Review, 2001; rev. ed., 2002. ISBN 0-920653-05-7

Special issues and magazine features

* "The Antigonish Review" 125 (2001). A feature on Richard Outram’s work, comprising Peter Sanger’s ‘Richard Outram: A Preface’ and twenty poems by Outram. This feature was later revised and republished as "Richard Outram: A Preface and Selection", with a (corrected) cover image by Barbara Howard (The Antigonish Review Occasional Paper Number 3; Antigonish, Nova Scotia, 2001).
* "Canadian Notes & Queries" 63 (2003). A special issue on the work of Richard Outram. Guest ed. Michael Carbert. Comprising: William Blissett, ‘Collecting Gauntlets’; Terry Griggs, ‘Wordman’; Amanda Jernigan, ‘Hiram on the Night Shore’; Guy Davenport, ‘Entropy’; W. J. Keith, ‘Outram’s “Stage Crew”’; David Solway, ‘Reading Richard Outram’; Caroline Adderson, ‘Mogul Recollected’; Michael Darling, ‘A Chance Encounter with Richard Outram’; Eric Ormsby, ‘Banjo Music’; Jeffery Donaldson, ‘Encounters and Recollections in the Art of Barbara Howard and Richard Outram’; Carmine Starnino, ‘The Other Outram’; Peter Sanger, ‘A Word Still Dwelling’.
* "DA: A Journal of the Printing Arts" 44 (1999). A special issue on the Gauntlet Press, guest ed. Alan Horne, comprising: Alan Horne, ‘Editorial’; Richard Outram, ‘A Brief History of Time at The Gauntlet Press (Or, Some Days the Earth Moved)’; Barbara Howard, ‘A Painter Pressed into the Service of Poetry’; Donald W. McLeod, ‘A Checklist of The Gauntlet Press, 1960-1995’.
* "The New Quarterly" 21.4 (2001/2002). A feature on Richard Outram’s work, comprising Peter Sanger’s introduction, ‘The Sounding Light: Richard Outram and Barbara Howard’, and four poems by Richard Outram.
* "The New Quarterly" 89 (2004): 25-73. Three Encounters with Poet Richard Outram, comprising: Amanda Jernigan, ‘Graceful Errors and Happy Intellections: Encounters with Richard Outram’; Michael Carbert, ‘Faith and Resilience: An Interview with Richard Outram’; Richard Outram, ‘Rage and Outrage: Poetry and the Media’.

Articles, interviews, reviews

* Adamek, Anna. [Review of "Benedict Abroad".] "Arc" 43 (1999): 95-96.
* Anderson, Rod. [Review of "Man in Love".] "Canadian Literature" (1986): 148-50.
* Camlot, Jason. [Review of "Benedict Abroad".] "Journal of Canadian Poetry" 15 (1998): 134-39.
* Cardy, Michael. [Review of "Hiram and Jenny".] "Canadian Author & Bookman" 64.4 (1989): 16.
* de Santana, Hubert. 'Monarch in Mufti', "Books in Canada", September (1976).
* Donaldson, Jeffery. ‘A Light Blaze in Rare Air: Richard Outram’. "Books in Canada" 32.7 (2003): 36. []
* Enright, Michael. 'Richard Outram: A Passion for Poetry'. (52 min. interview with Outram). "The Sunday Edition". CBC Radio One. 7 April 2002. Replayed in part 30 January 2005, as part of a memorial feature. Available on CD by order from CBC.
* Fitzgerald, Heather. [Review of "Dove Legend".] "Quill & Quire" 67.3 (2001): 56.
* Hatch, Ronald B. ‘Poetry.’ "University of Toronto Quarterly" 56.1 (1986): 29-45. ‘Letters in Canada 1985’ poetry survey; includes a review of "Man in Love".
* Hunter, Catherine. [Review of "Mogul Recollected".] "Prairie Fire" 16.2 (1995): 149.
* Ingham, David. [Review of "Hiram and Jenny".] "Canadian Literature" 129 (1991): 187-88.
* Jernigan, Amanda. ‘Holding to Desire: Verse Translations by Richard Outram’. "Canadian Notes & Queries" 73 (2008): 25-28. With fourteen previously unpublished verse translations.
* Kerr, Don. [Review of "Hiram and Jenny".] "Journal of Canadian Poetry". 5 (1990): 95-98.
* Kröller, Eva-Marie. [Review of "Dove Legend and Other Poems"] . "Journal of Canadian Poetry" 18 (2001) 118-20.
* MacKendrick, Louis K. ‘Richard Outram, Man in Love’. "Journal of Canadian Poetry" 2 (1985): 79-82.
* Manguel, Alberto. ‘Hard Truths’. "Saturday Night" 103.4 (1988): 57-59.
**‘Outram, Richard (1930 - )’ (encyclopedia entry). "Routledge Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English". Ed. Eugene Benson and L. W. Connolly. London: Routledge, 1994.
**‘Waiting for an Echo: On Reading Richard Outram’ (rev. and updated version of ‘Hard Truths’). "Into the Looking-Glass Wood". Toronto: Knopf, 1998. 225-35. ISBN 0-676-97135-0
* McKinney, Louise. ‘Architects of the Poetic Landscape’. "Quill and Quire" 55.2 (1989): 25. Includes a review of "Hiram and Jenny".
* Moore, Robert. ‘Poems for the Soul Reborn into an Age of “Stringent Myths”’ (review of "Dove Legend"). "Books in Canada" 31.6 (2002): 36-37. []
* Rae, Ian. ‘Loving and Leaving’ "Canadian Literature" 180 (2004): 167-69. Includes a review of "Dove Legend".
* Reibetanz, Julie. ‘Poetry.’ "University of Toronto Quarterly" 72.1 (2002/03): 207-55. ‘Letters in Canada 2001’ poetry survey; includes a review of "Dove Legend".
* [Review of "Mogul Recollected".] "Matrix" 43 (1994): 78-80.
* Roberts, Paul: [Review of "Selected Poems 1960-1980"] , "Books in Canada", June/July 1985, p.26-27
* Solway, David. ‘Reading Richard Outram.’ "Director’s Cut". Erin, Ont.: Porcupine’s Quill, 2003. A version of his essay from "Canadian Notes & Queries" 63. ISBN 0-88984-272-8
* Starnino, Carmine. ‘The Other Outram’. "A Lover’s Quarrel". Erin, Ont.: Porcupine’s Quill, 2004. A version of his essay from "Canadian Notes & Queries" 63. ISBN 0-88984-241-8
* Szumigalski, Anne. [Review of "Mogul Recollected".] "Arc" 33 (1994): 77-78.
* Vulpé, Nicola. [Review of "Selected Poems 1960-1980".] "Journal of Canadian Poetry" 1 (1986): 88-91.

Obituaries and memorial poems

* Black, J. D. ‘For Richard Outram’ (poem). "Black Velvet Elvis". Erin, Ont.: Porcupine’s Quill, 2006. 39. ISBN 0-88984-277-9
* Clifford, Wayne. ‘In Memoriam: Richard Outram’ (poem). "DA: A Journal of the Printing Arts" 56 (2005): 44.
* Donaldson, Jeffery. 'LET'. For Richard Outram, in memoriam (poem). "Palilalia". Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2008. p.73 ISBN 0773533834
* Dunphy, Catherine. ‘A poet voiceless without his muse’. "Toronto Star" 21 Feb. 2005: B5. []
* Heighton, Steven. ‘Outram Lake’ (poem). "The New Quarterly" 105 (2008): 10-11.
* Martin, Sandra. ‘Richard Outram, Poet (1930-2005).’ "The Globe and Mail" 1 Feb. 2005: R5. []
* Murray, George. ‘Go’ (poem). "The Rush to Here: Poems". Gibsons, B.C.: Nightwood, 2007. 73. ISBN 0-88971-229-8
* Sanger, Peter. ‘Walking in Snow’ (poem). "Aiken Drum". Kentville, N.S.: Gaspereau, 2006. 76. ISBN 1554470145
* Zitner, S. P. ‘In Memory of Richard Outram’ (poem). "The Hunt on the Lagoon". Fredericton, N.B.: Goose Lane, 2005. 92. ISBN 9780864924469

Public collections of the Gauntlet Press

* The National Library of Canada, Ottawa
* The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto
* Memorial University of Newfoundland Libraries, Rare Books Collection
* The Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta
* The University of British Columbia Library, Vancouver, BC
* University of Western Ontario, London, ON
* The MILLS Research Collections, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON
* The University of Calgary, Alberta, Special Collections
* The Berg Collection, New York Public Library
* The Harris Collection of Poetry and Plays, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
* The Library of Congress, Washington, DC
* University at Buffalo, New York, Special Collections
* The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass
* The Bodleian Library, Oxford, England
* The British Library, London, England


External links

* [ How Poetry Works: Richard Outram's poem "Story"]
* [ How Poetry Works: Richard Outram's poem "Barbed Wire"]
* [ A History of the Gauntlet Press]
* [ An introduction to the poetry of Richard Outram]
* [ Three poems by Richard Outram]

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