Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Podcast: Interview with Poet Alden Nowlan (1982)

Poet Alden Nowlan (1933-1983). (Photo Courtesy of Beaverbrook Collection of War Art)

From 1981 to 1989, I was assistant producer and co-host of the radio show On the Arts, at CJRT-FM (today Jazz 91.1) in Toronto. With the late Tom Fulton, who was the show's prime host and producer, we did a half-hour interview program where we talked to writers and artists from all fields. In 1982, I sat down with Canadian poet, novelist, and playwright Alden Nowlan.

Nowlan was born in poverty in Stanley, Nova Scotia, where his father worked as an itinerant manual labourer. His mother abandoned the family when Alden was quite young and left him in the care of his paternal grandmother. Since the family was hard pressed to survive, education wasn't a priority. So Nowlan left school after the fourth grade, but when he discovered the library in the small adjacent town of Windsor, he would travel eighteen miles to stoke his interest in literature. Ultimately, Nowlan settled in Saint John, New Brunswick, where he married Claudine Orser, a typesetter, and became a poet. Having contracted throat cancer in 1966, which he recovered from, he went on to write many poems about mortality. In 1967, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his collection, Bread, Wine and Salt (Clarke-Irwin, 1967) was awarded the Governor General's Award for Poetry.

At the time of our conversation, Alden Nowlan's final book of original poetry, I Might Not Tell Everybody This, had just been published by Clarke Irwin. Nowlan passed away a year later, in 1983, at the age of 50 from severe emphysema.

– Kevin Courrier.

Here is the full interview with Alden Nowlan as it aired on CJRT-FM in 1982.




 Kevin Courrier is a freelance writer/broadcaster, film critic and author (Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa, Randy Newman's American Dreams33 1/3 Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, Artificial Paradise: The Dark Side of The Beatles Utopian Dream). Courrier teaches part-time film courses to seniors through the LIFE Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto and other venues. His forthcoming book is Talking Out of Turn: A Collection of Reviews, Interviews and Remembrances currently being assembled on Blogger. 




Tom Fulton was the host and producer of On the Arts for CJRT-FM in Toronto for 23 years, beginning in 1975.

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