Anne Compton

Anne Compton, poet, critic and professor (born at Bangor, PE, 1947). Anne Compton was raised on Prince Edward Island, in the farming community of Bangor. She attended the University of Prince Edward Island, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree. She went on to York University for her Masters, and received her PhD at the University of New Brunswick. Compton is an assistant professor and Writer-in-Residence at UNB Saint John's Department of Humanities and Languages, teaching literature and creative writing. She is also the Director of the Lorenzo Reading Series at UNB, and serves on the New Brunswick Arts Board. She resides in the town of Rothesay, New Brunswick.

Compton spent much of the 1990s publishing poems and articles in various Canadian journals, while engaged in pursuing her academic career. Her articles range from 19th and 20th century aesthetics and 17th century metaphysical poetry to Maritime literature. It was during this period she published her first book, A.J.M. Smith: Canadian Metaphysical (1994). These poems reflect her upbringing in Bangor, furnishing her with her aesthetic template. Compton has the gift of seeing the transcendental in the mundane, the "infinity in a grain of sand," as Blake put it. She also shares a strong affinity in this regard to Emily Dickinson. While not as compact and hermetic as Dickinson, a certain precision of insight radiates from Compton's poetry that suggests Dickinson at her best. In an interview posted on the Open Book Toronto website, Compton was asked which poem in any period she wished she had written herself, and responded with Dickinson's "There's a certain Slant of light," admiring it "for its brilliant economy and psychological truth."

This Bangor influence is manifest in her first book of poems, Opening The Island (2002), which was shortlisted for the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award in 2002, and went on the win the Atlantic Poetry Prize in 2003. Her gifts of insight and received illumination are also evident in her work as an editor and anthologist, for 2002 also saw the publication of The Edge Of Home: Milton Acorn from the Island, and Coastlines: The Poetry of Atlantic Canada.

Though prolific in turning out scholarly works, Compton's poetic output is small. By her own admission, she writes slowly, constantly revising her poetry for years on end if need be. This quiet, steady concentration of a highly acute sensibility yields sharp, quiet poems of intense detail and realization of theme. It is just these qualities that shine in Compton's 2005 book of poetry, Processional, which was awarded the Governor-General's Award for poetry in 2005, as well as a second Atlantic Poetry Prize in that same year.

In 2008, Compton's body of work was acknowledged with the receipt of the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in the Literary Arts. Among her anthologies are New Canadian Poetry and Following the Plow: Recovering the Rural, both published in 2000. More recent books are Meetings with Maritime Poets (2006) and her third collection of poetry, Asking Questions Indoors and Out (2009).

See also Poetry in English.