The Essential Richard Outram

Primary Author: 
Richard Outram and Amanda Jernigan
The Essential Richard Outram

The Essential Richard Outram is an elegant, affordable selection of poems by one of Canada’s great poets. By turns theatrical and philosophical -- and often both at once -- Outram is always intimately attuned to the wonders and the workings of language. This volume gathers well-loved lyrics alongside poems unpublished in Outram’s lifetime: there is much here for both long-time readers of Outram’s work and readers new to his oeuvre.


Richard Outram, long celebrated as a poet’s poet, has increasingly found an audience among poets and layreaders alike. As much at home with the physical as with the metaphysical, he is by turns bawdy and decorous, sensual and ascetic. He is a virtuoso ventriloquist, speaking now as a reluctant sailor, now as a heartbroken prophetess, now as ‘a bloody great Indian elephant’; he even speaks, occasionally -- a rarer feat, this, than is commonly acknowledged -- as himself. The Essential Richard Outram is an affordable, pocket-sized selection that will introduce readers to a variety of Outram’s registers and personae.

When Outram died in 2005, he left behind him more than twenty books of poetry, many of these privately published with his wife, the painter and wood engraver Barbara Howard. The poems in these privately-published books, alongside the deeply personal lyrics that Outram chose not to publish in his lifetime, comprise a little-read oeuvre of great importance. Collecting a selection of these rarities alongside highlights from Outram’s trade-publications, The Essential Outramprovides a fuller sense of the arc of this poet’s career than has yet been made accessible in book form.

Since its inaugural year of 2007, the Porcupine’s Quill’s acclaimed Essential Poets series has celebrated Canadian poets and presented their work in an accessibly succinct and beautiful package -- sixty-four pages to introduce, reacquaint, provoke and enchant. The Essential Richard Outram is the seventh volume of the series.

Price: $4.99