Series S0004 - Poetry

Identity area

Reference code

CA ACU SPC F0008-S0004




  • [ca. 1951-1983] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2267 items

Context area

Name of creator

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Consists of manuscripts of individual poems as well as manuscripts, galleys and/or reviews of poetry collections. All poetry collections are represented with the exception of A Darkness in the Earth, A Black Plastic Button and A Yellow Yoyo and early poems. Also includes some material for Alden Nowlan's Maritimes, Shaped by this Land, Gardens of the Wind and All on a Summer's Day. Manuscripts filed alphabetically by title with the exception of the first five files, which contain early published and unpublished poetry, and the last six files, which contain notebooks with ideas for poems and poetry fragments.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

  • Although many manuscripts are undated, final drafts often contain the author's name and address. Extrapolating from Nowlan's place of residence makes it possible to assign a date range to many undated manuscripts. Nowlan lived in Hartland, N.B., from 1963 to August 1968; and Fredericton, N.B., from 1968 until his death in June 1983. Undated manuscripts written in Hartland are, therefore, assigned the date "between 1952 and 1963"; those in Saint John "between 1963 and 1968"; and those in Fredericton "after 1967".
  • The above method of assigning dates sometimes creates a problem. For example, a preliminary draft dated August 970, followed by an undated final draft showing place of residence as Fredericton would produce an illogical date entry "1970 August - after 1967". In such cases, the assigned date line has been amended to read "1970 August - 1970(?) or after", presuming the clean copy draft to be written after the preliminary draft.
  • In order to keep all manuscripts of a particular work together, drafts are filed under the published title. Some exceptions to this rule are present in the Poetry Series where it was not always possible to determine all published titles. Where all manuscripts in a file have only a variant title, the title line in the inventory contains the published title followed in parentheses by the variant title. For example, the short story published as "The Gunfighter" in Miracle at Indian River is represented in the collection only by early drafts titled "A Walk in Trafalgar Street" and "Ghosts". the assigned title lines for these files read "The gunfighter (A walk on Trafalgar Street)" and "The gunfighter (Ghosts)".
  • Untitled poems are filed and indexed individually only if they have been published or if substantial manuscript material is present. The title line for individually-filed untitled poems is "Untitled poem" followed in parentheses by the first line of the poem, for example, "Untitled poem (Death is not what I supposed...)".
  • Nowlan often has given the same title to more than one poem, for example, "Hands". To distinguish between such poems, the first line of the poem is added in parentheses in the title line, for example, "Hands (Watching another's hands...)" or "Hands (A man doesn't need pity...)".

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