The Essential D. G. Jones (Digital Edition)

Primary Author: 
D. G. Jones and Jim Johnstone
The Essential D. G. Jones

In The Essential D G Jones, volume editor Jim Johnstone presents a selection of the most important writings of Douglas Gordon Jones, one of the few of Canada’s great lyric poets to expertly straddle the line between the modern and postmodern era.

About the Book

Known for his confident and elemental lyrics, and subtle shifts in diction, tone and voice, the poetry of D. G. Jones offers a portal to the natural world. Though initially his poetry tended toward formality and rigorous control, Jones’s style gradually evolved to become looser, more instinctual, given to linguistic flexibility and visual experimentation. The Essential D. G. Jones celebrates this poetic transformation, presenting the most important lyrics from all stages of Jones’s career, along with a few, never-before published poems to round out the collection.

The Essential Poets Series presents the works of Canada’s most celebrated poets in a package that is beautiful, accessible and affordable. The Essential D. G. Jones is the 14th volume in the series.

Read an Excerpt

I Annihilate

I annihilate the purple finch
in the apple tree

it is a winter dawn

it is ‘La Guerre’ Henri Rousseau
saw charging through the shattered space
of the Second Empire

it is a faint
in the silent cosmos

c’est une tache
sur la page blanche

un cauchemar en rose

c’est le Québec

a bird

c’est ça
un oiseau dans un pommier

it may fly off
but it won’t go away

I neglected to mention the snow


the craft of making buttons
that we may come apart
in style

horn, pewter, even plastic

pray, sir
undo this button

oh, we would clothe the mind
in politeness, even
in extremity

to button up is seemly, to
unbutton, step
seemingly without art into
nothing, is grace

About the Author


Douglas Gordon Jones was a Canadian writer, translator and critic. Born in 1929 in Bancroft, ON, he studied English Literature in university at McGill and Queen’s. He continued his career in academia, teaching at Bishop’s University before settling into a post at the Université de Sherbrooke. While there, he co-founded a bilingual literary journal ellipse: Writers in Translation (1969-2012), the only magazine of its kind in Canada. Jones was the author of ten books of poetry, and won the A. J. M. Smith Award for Poetry (1977), the A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry (1989, 1995) and the Governor General’s Award, once in 1977 for his collection of poems, Under the Thunder the Flowers Light Up the Earth, and again in 1993 for his translation of Normand de Bellefeuille’s Categorics: 1, 2 & 3. In 2007, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. Jones passed away in March 2016 in North Hatley, Quebec.

About the Editor


Jim Johnstone is a Canadian writer, editor, and physiologist. He is the author of four books of poetry: Dog Ear (Véhicule Press, 2014), Sunday, the locusts (Tightrope Books, 2011), Patternicity (Nightwood Editions, 2010) and The Velocity of Escape (Guernica Editions, 2008), as well as the subject of the critical monograph Proofs & Equational Love: The Poetry of Jim Johnstone by Shane Neilson and Jason Guriel. He has won several awards including a CBC Literary Award, Matrix Magazine’s LitPop Award, The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize and This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt. Currently, Johnstone is the Poetry Editor at Palimpsest Press, and an Associate Editor at Representative Poetry Online.

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