Peter Sanger

Peter Sanger is a poet and essayist, widely known for his critical writings on poets John Thompson, Douglas Lochhead, and Richard Outram. His recent books include Lightfield: The Photography of Thaddeus Holownia and Odysseus Asleep: Uncollected Sequences, 1994–2019. He lives in Truro, NS.

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White Salt Mountain: Words in Time
Peter Sanger

2005 / Books & reading / $27.95
9781554470044 / Trade paper / 240 pp

In this remarkable follow-up to Spar: Words in Place (Gaspereau Press, 2002), Peter Sanger explores the scope of words in time. Offering significant new material to the study of linguist Silas Rand and poet John Thompson, Sanger introduces Susan Barss and Florence Ayscough, notable but largely unsung contributors to Rand’s and Thompson’s work. With the same passion for reading and exploration, along with several of the neighbourhood landmarks, symbolic imagery and literary influences that first emerged in Spar, Sanger joins the lives and work of key authors and translators in Canada’s literary history. Sanger’s unique and far-sighted approach to words and time illuminates critical intersections between authors, readers and texts.

White Salt Mountain is a mystery,” says Sanger. “The consistent theme of the book is the source and meaning, at the most profound levels, of its title. This book fits into the literary category also occupied by Poe’s ‘Gold Bug’ story and more recently by A. S. Byatt’s Possession about the detection of the real life of a Victorian poetess and the parallel life lived by the modern detective literary scholars. . . . The reader of White Salt Mountain participates not only in the detection of a phrase but also in discovering Florence Ayscough and Susan Barss, discovering certain feminine continuities in Canadian cultural history which had been lost. . . . At base, White Salt Mountain is structured according to the most ancient of narrative forms—the quest for hidden and lost treasure. Its Shangri-la is St. Andrew’s—its Treasure Island rests in the Bay of Fundy”

On a journey to MacMaster Island in Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick, Sanger introduces the work of nineteenth-century translator and poet Florence Ayscough. He provides the first comprehensive account of Ayscough’s life, including her years in Shanghai, her study of Chinese, her collaboration with American poet Amy Lowell on translations of Chinese poetry, and the influence of these translations and others on the Canadian poetic idiom that persists today.

Sanger’s work illustrates the power words carry across time beyond their volumes. In his discussion of New Brunswick poet John Thompson’s Stilt Jack, a collection that continues as one of the most widely influential works in Canadian poetry, Sanger works from inside and outside of Thompson’s words, bringing to life the poet’s guiding mythology and influences, and testing them in transit and in conversation with other texts.

Sanger’s final chapter begins in a canoe on the Shubenacadie River as he sets out to locate ‘Grandmother’s Place’, described in Silas Rand’s Legends of the Micmacs. Sanger also presents his recent discovery of Rand’s original transcripts of two stories told by Susan Barss in 1847, among the earliest surviving records of Native storytelling in North America. Sanger’s sleuthing, and the kinds of parallels and intersections it brings to light, embodies a departure from the conventions of literary criticism into a style of reading that is grounded in locale and attuned to the way a literary culture takes shape over time.

Peter Sanger has published five collections of poetry, including Earth Moth (1991) and Ironworks (2001), a collaborative project with photographer Thaddeus Holownia. His most recent work is Spar: Words in Place (2002), a collection of essays based on life in rural Nova Scotia. Sanger has been the poetry editor of The Antigonish Review since 1985. He lives on a farm in South Maitland, Nova Scotia.

The trade edition of this book is a 5 x 8-inch, smyth-sewn paperback bound in card stock with a letterpress-printed jacket. The text is printed offset on laid paper.

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There is also a special edition of the book: 9781554470037

Other Books by this Author

Sea Run: Notes on John Thompson’s Stilt Jack
Peter Sanger

2023 / Literary Criticism Canadian Poetry / $28.95 CAN
9781554472581 / Trade paper / 144 pp
Biorachan Road
Peter Sanger

2022 / Essay / $150.00 CAN
Fine / 22 pp
Odysseus Asleep: Uncollected Sequences, 1994-2019
Peter Sanger

2019 / Canadian Poetry / $21.95 CAN
9781554472048 / Trade paper / 128 pp
Lightfield: The Photography of Thaddeus Holownia
Peter Sanger

2018 / Photography, Essays, Canadian Art / $24.95 CAN
9781554471775 / Trade paper / 112 pp
Of Things Unknown: Critical Essays, 1978–2005
Peter Sanger

2015 / Literary Criticism / $34.95 CAN
9781554471508 / Trade paper / 368 pp
Peter Sanger

2014 / Essay / $9.95 CAN
9781554471256 / Pamphlet / 16 pp
Fireship: Early Poems, 1965–1991
Peter Sanger

2013 / Poetry / $25.95 CAN
9781554471218 / Trade paper / 192 pp
John Stokes’ Horse
Peter Sanger

2012 / Poetry / $21.95 CAN
9781554471133 / Trade paper / 128 pp
Through Darkling Air: The Poetry of Richard Outram
Peter Sanger

2010 / Biography / $65.95 CAN
9781554470617 / Hardcover / 512 pp
The Stone Canoe: Two Lost Mi’kmaq Texts
Peter Sanger, Elizabeth Paul, Alan Syliboy

2007 / Literary Criticism / $29.95 CAN
9781554470433 / Trade paper / 192 pp
Aiken Drum
Peter Sanger

2006 / Poetry / $49.95 CAN
9781554470150 / Fine / 144 pp
Aiken Drum
Peter Sanger

2006 / Poetry / $19.95 CAN
9781554470143 / Trade paper / 144 pp
White Salt Mountain: Words in Time
Peter Sanger

2005 / Books & reading / $59.95 CAN
9781554470037 / Fine / 240 pp
Spar: Words in Place
Peter Sanger

2002 / Books & reading / $21.95 CAN
9781894031547 / Trade paper / 112 pp
Spar: Words in Place
Peter Sanger

2002 / Books & reading / $49.95 CAN
9781894031554 / Fine / 112 pp
Divisions of the Heart: Elizabeth Bishop and the Art of Memory and Place
Sandra Barry, Peter Sanger, Gwendolyn Davies

2001 / Essays / $32.95 CAN
9781894031318 / Trade paper / 336 pp
Peter Sanger

2001 / Poetry / $4.95 CAN
9781894031530 / Pamphlet / 24 pp

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