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article imageWar veteran’s poems published by Algoma professor

By Tim Sandle     Sep 13, 2016 in Entertainment
Toronto - A collection of poems penned by a U.S. war veteran have been selected and published by a professor of literature. The poems provide a vivid and moving account of conflict.
The poems were written by George Whalley (1915 – 1983). Whalley was a respected Canadian scholar and poet. As well as excelling in the literature field; Whalley was also a naval officer and secret intelligence agent. Whalley served in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (1940–56) and was on active duty in the Royal Navy (1940–45).
Whalley was also a script-writer and broadcaster, musician, biographer and translator, excelling in many fields of the arts. Several of his scripts were for CBC productions.
The poems have been compiled by Dr. Michael John DiSanto, who is an associate professor at Algoma University. Dr. DiSanto works in the university’s Department of English and Film.
The new collection is called “The Complete Poems of George Whalley” and the collection contains never-before-published works. One of DiSanto’s aims is to bring Whalley’s work out from the dark and for it to gain greater publicity.
Most of the poems related to World War II. Some of the poems have been previously published, in collections that are no longer commercially available. In addition, DiSanto tracked down 150 poems which he found in public archives and also when he went through George Whalley’s personal letters, papers and journals.
The book has been well received by the literary world. For instance, literary critic Dr. Zailig Pollock has commented on the university’s website: “George Whalley is a figure of substantial importance in the history of Canadian literature and scholarship.”
He adds that the work is: “unprecedented in its detail, this lucid and well-researched account brings Whalley’s work the attention it so richly deserves.”
The following is an extract from a poem by Whalley called ‘Battle Pattern’:
Battle Pattern
The flames flower red-orange from the ring of guns,
the yellow cordite-smoke drifts clear of the ships,
and down-wind you hear the rumble and torn-silk of the shells
feeling for the viscera to destroy.
The white stupendous shell-splashes mount
slowly as a moment in catastrophe,
hang and drift out in a clinging mist.
A rose-coloured wound glows in the armourplate
where a shell strikes. This is
dull, blinding, incredible.
As well as the book, DiSanto is co-organizing the Centenary Conference in Honour of George Whalley.
More about war poetry, Poetry, war veteran, War
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