Thursday, May 8, 2008

Crossing Lines: Poets Who Came To Canada in Vietnam War Era

A Migration of Poets

Mail brings copy of new anthology Crossing Lines - Poets Who Came To Canada in the Vietnam Era, Seraphim Editions, Canada.

Edited by Massachusetts-born poet Allan Briesmaster and L.A. -born Steven Michael Berzensky (Mick Burrs), Crossing Lines includes the work of 76 men and women who grew up in the U.S. and then immigrated to Canada in the Vietnam War era (1965-75).

As noted in the Preface (A Migration of Poets), “…thousands of American women also emigrated during the historic period of upheaval and change in both countries… about a third of our Crossing Lines poets are women.”

And, as the editors point out, “Although the Vietnam war and the Draft and anti-war protests were prominent in the news of the time, individual circumstances differed greatly, even among those wishing to avoid ‘crossing the line’ into military service. These varied circumstances are in plain view in some of the poems here as well as in the contributors’ bios. At least two of the poets (Kolos, Sward) actually served in the U.S. armed forces” [I served in the combat zone in U.S. Navy during the Korean War and, exempt from the draft, came to serve as Poet in Residence at the University of Victoria (1969 - 1972) before moving to Toronto].

Apart from the draft, many came to Canada seeking opportunity or a fresh start; many were university students or, like myself, teachers…

Judging by their poetry, many contributors seem to have had little involvement with the politics of the day, or even with the counter-culture… they write instead of their feelings and experiences in making the transition—loneliness, a sense of separation, a lowering of expectations, the difficulty of finding work… and some write of going back as more difficult than leaving.

What did these people contribute to Canada? The editors observe, “One quality that characterizes this particular immigrant group is a dynamic individualism, a widely acknowledged American trait which they each brought undeclared across the border, prodding them to contribute something distinctive to Canada’s culture."

Press Release (see below)

Representing the Best of Small Press

P.O. Box 3471, Stn. C. Hamilton ON L8H 7M1
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May 2008

Anthology Reflects America’s Loss, Canada’s Gain

Seraphim Editions ( is proud to publish Crossing Lines: Poets Who Came to Canada in the Vietnam War Era, an unprecedented 256-page, 76-poet anthology of poetry by men and women who grew up in the United States and emigrated to Canada during the years 1965-75.

Some of the poets came north to avoid crossing the line into military service; a few came after completing their stint; and still others, who were exempt from the Draft, chose Canada for a fresh start in life, many of them as students and teachers. Individual histories, literary careers, and writing styles differ widely, but all were fundamentally affected by their change of country.

Crossing Lines explores numerous themes related both to the turbulent decade 1965-75 and to our own time: including personal responses to the Vietnam War itself, reflections on war in general and war today, thoughts on leaving home and familiar places, memoirs of arrival and a new beginning, and, above all, a longing for peace. Many of these writers have achieved great literary distinction, and as a group they represent a cultural phenomenon which has been insufficiently recognized both in Canada and the U.S.

Publisher Maureen Whyte notes: “This book reveals some of the voices which helped to shape the styles and themes of Canadian poetry in the late 20th Century and beyond. I am very excited to contribute such an important addition to Canada’s literary legacy.” The moving and outspoken poems collected here will interest students and lovers of poetry on both sides of the border, and will be uniquely valuable to Canadian Studies programs, and to historians.

Founded in 1995, Seraphim Editions publishes the works of established and emerging writers from across Canada.

For more information about Crossing Lines and upcoming readings in Canada and the U.S., or to arrange an interview with editors Allan Briesmaster or Steven Michael Berzensky, please contact Trudi at The Book Band,


Maureen Whyte, Publisher
Seraphim Editions
238 Emerald Street North
Hamilton, Ontario
Canada L8L 5K8

Telephone: 905-525-5509
Facsimile: 905-525-0332

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