In John Updike's Room

New and Selected Poems

by Christopher Wiseman

Chris Wiseman stayed at the Marine Hotel in North Berwick, Scotland, in 2000, about eighteen months after the American novelist John Updike. Wiseman believes he stayed in the same room as that in which Updike is reported to have watched High Society (1956), a film that starred Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong.

In In John Updike's Room, one of Canada's major poets has gathered the best from his first eight books, and added a generous and richly varied selection of new and previously unpublished work. Christopher Wiseman demonstrates here, with great authority, a strong and impressive humanity, deep feeling, a total command of both free and formal verse, an ability to celebrate the seemingly ordinary and turn it into something unforgettable, even luminous, and a startlingly wide range of subject, tone and approach. The poems collected here from some forty years of writing move around Europe, Britain, Canada and the United States, and range from the comic to the satirical to the reflective to the elegiac, but never lose what the Pulitzer prize-winning poet Donald Justice has called Wiseman's `strong, clear, truth-telling voice'. Don Coles admires the poems for being `subtle and tender', and throughout these warm, human and accessible works, the over-riding quality is one of honest, recognizable, but distinctive emotion, as the poems, brilliantly crafted and shaped, delight and deepen our sense of personal possibility, of the joy, laughter, sorrow and grief which will send the reader back over and over again to its warm and wise pages.

In John Updike's Room won the W. O. Mitchell City of Calgary Prize for 2006

Christopher Wiseman was born and educated in Britain, and after three years writing and teaching at the University of Iowa, and seven years at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, he came to Canada in 1969. Since then, he has taught at the University of Calgary, where he founded the Creative Writing programme and taught until taking early retirement. His poetry, short fiction, reviews and critical writings have been published and broadcast extensively on both sides of the Atlantic, and he has given hundreds of readings and workshops in Canada and the U.K. Christopher Wiseman's poetry has won two Province of Alberta Poetry Awards, the Poetry Prize from the Writers' Guild of Alberta, and an Alberta Achievement Award for Excellence in the literary arts. He was the first Calgarian to be a member of the League of Canadian Poets, has served on the Board of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, as founding Vice-President and then President of the Writers' Guild of Alberta, as editor and poetry editor of both ARIEL and Dandelion, and he is a Contributing Editor of Books in Canada. This is his ninth full-length collection of poetry.