Peacock BlueFront Cover

ISBN: 9780889229129 | hardback

ISBN: 9780889229143 | paperback / softback

$45.00 | 512 pages | Pub. Date: 2014
9 W × 6 H × 1 D inches
Poetry | Backlist | Bisac: POE011000
ISBN 13: 9780889229129 | Rights: WORLD

Peacock Blue
The Collected Poems
By Phyllis Webb
Edited by John F. Hulcoop

When Phyllis Webb published Wilson’s Bowl in 1980, Northrop Frye hailed it as “a landmark in Canadian literature”: landmark, an event that marks a turning point in something (in this case, Canadian literature); and an instantly recognized feature of a landscape (in this case, the landscape of Canadian poetry). Wilson’s Bowl was Webb’s fifth volume of poetry. Three more followed and then she fell silent, turning from literature to abstract painting.

Peacock Blue compiles in a single volume all of Webb’s published, unpublished, and uncollected works from a writing career that spanned fifty years. It offers readers the opportunity to relish the arc of Webb’s entire poetic oeuvre, from the modernist lyricism of her early works, to the groundbreaking volume, Naked Poems (1965), in which Webb created for herself a new minimalist language; from Wilson’s Bowl to what Douglas Barbour calls “Webb’s loving and subversive engagement with the ghazal” in Water and Light (1984); and finally to the postmodernist prose poems of Hanging Fire (1990).

The concluding section of Peacock Blue contains almost fifty poems, some of which have never been published before. It also includes  brilliant but forgotten poems and poetic surprises. Brenda Carr has suggested that one of Webb’s later essays, “Message Machine” (1990), “initiates a re-reading of her poetics and practice … Against her anxiety that she is a passive ‘message machine’ for masculinist culture.” However, as Carr points out, “Webb posits another possibility – ‘cross-dressing.’ She theorizes her mimicry of the male persona as analogous to a ‘masquerade’ or ‘street theatre’ and in so doing reconstructs even her earlier poems as a performative space in which agency is possible.” The truth of Carr’s insight becomes increasingly apparent to anyone who undertakes to read through Webb’s entire poetic output, gathered together, at last, in Peacock Blue.

By Phyllis Webb

Phyllis Webb worked for many years as a writer and broadcaster for the CBC, where she created the radio program “Ideas” in 1965 and was its executive producer from 1967 to 1969. Her 1980 work Wilson’s Bowl was hailed by Northrop Frye as “a landmark in Canadian poetry.” As Stephen Scobie once wrote, the work of Phyllis Webb “has always been distinguished by the profundity of her insights, the depth of her emotional feeling, the delicacy and accuracy of her rhythms, the beauty and mysterious resonance of her images—and by her luminous intelligence.” Phyllis Webb received the BC Gas Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, the Order of Canada in 1992, and the 1982 Governor General’s Award for Selected Poems: The Vision Tree.

Read more about Phyllis Webb


Edited by John F. Hulcoop

John F. Hulcoop received a B.A. and a PhD from University College London. He emigrated to Canada in 1956 and taught in the English department at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Phyllis Webb and Her Works (ECW Press, 1990).

Read more about John F. Hulcoop


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news | 2016-01-05
Best of 2015

…list as well. Phyllis Webb’s collected poems, Peacock Blue (the softcover edition of which was released this …


news | 2015-11-06
Scree is launched! Watch the video, see the photos

…that the publication of Scree and last year’s Peacock Blue represented a continuance, or a second …


news | 2015-09-04
Webb belongs in all CanLit libraries!

…the last (but by no means least): a review of Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems of Phyllis Webb. In the … in Canadian letters. Peacock Blue should long have a place in any and all CanLit …


news | 2015-08-10
Highlights from the CBC, Q&Q and 49th Shelf fall previews

…Fitzgerald’s Impeccable Regret, and Webb’s Peacock Blue (softcover edition). Quill and Quire , Canada’s …


news | 2015-04-22
A Packed House for Phyllis Webb on Saltspring Island

…Phyllis Webb reads from Peacock Blue, April 15, 2015. Photo by Lorraine Gane On … Webb from her recently published collection, Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems , choosing the poems “Spots … Webb’s book, Wilson’s Bowl (which is collected in Peacock Blue), as well as the poem “The Birds.” Local poet … Phyllis, enjoyed the event, and every copy of Peacock Blue available was sold out before all who wanted one … Webb, treasure of Canadian literature, reads from Peacock Blue. Photo by Lorraine Gane Blogger J. Rowlandson …


news | 2015-04-20
Malahat Review hails Peacock Blue as “literary event of the year”

…reviewer Phil Hall concludes that, Surely, Peacock Blue is the literary event of the year. Reading this … 2015) on pages 79 to 83. And order your copy of Peacock Blue today! …


news | 2015-02-02
The Vancouver Sun recommends Phyllis Webb

…Durer and Me, and Phyllis Webb’s collected poems, Peacock Blue. Rightly introducing Webb as “one of Canada’s … that is to be found only on the West Coast. … Peacock Blue is a most important book. It’s both a testament …


news | 2015-01-07
Our Best of 2014, According to the Year-End Lists

…made it onto year-end lists. We are pleased that Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems by Phyllis Webb was chosen …


news | 2014-12-03
Happy Holidays! Bundle Up

…enjoy. We also recommend the absolutely gorgeous Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems by Phyllis Webb as a gift … book for the CanLit/CanPoetry lover in your life. Peacock Blue compiles in a single volume all of Webb’s …


news | 2014-11-13
Launched! Our Fall 2014 “Septuplets”

…publisher, introduces the poets and shows off Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems of Phyllis Webb. First up … whose collected poems have now been published in Peacock Blue ($45). Webb, who is elderly and rarely travels, … and mesmerizing Daphne Marlatt read from Peacock Blue. (Stephen Collis was originally going to read … the spirit of Webb. Daphne Marlatt reads from Peacock Blue The one novel on the evening’s roster was Birth …