Louis Dudek (1918-2001)
One of the linch-pins of Canadian modernism, Louis Dudek was born and
raised in Montreal's east end, the progeny of Polish immigrants. After
graduating from McGill University in 1940 he worked in both advertising
and journalism. Between 1943 and 1951 he lived in New York City, where
he pursued graduate studies in journalism and history before switching
to literature at Columbia University and eventually teaching English at
City College of New York. His acquaintance in that city included Paul
Blackburn (translator of the Provencal Troubadours), Cid Corman (editor
of the seminal Origin magazine) and novelist Herbert Gold. He also
began a correspondence with Ezra Pound.
Before moving to New York he associated with Irving
Layton and John Sutherland at First Statement as a contributing
editor to the periodical and a consultant to the book publisher. Under
the influence of Pound and Corman he was instrumental in encouraging younger
Canadian writers to seize the means of production in publishing and, by
example, setting the stage for the small press movement of the 1960s and
70s. As a founder of Contact Press in 1952 he contributed to a decade
and a half of concerted literary publishing without commercial compromise.
As an editor/publisher of Delta Canada, he underlined his commitment to
the local in his promotion of the younger writers emerging in Montreal
and elsewhere in Canada.
Dudek's poetry collections include East of the
city (1946), Twenty-four poems (1952), The searching image
(1952), Europe (1955), The transparent sea (1956), En
Mexico (1958), Laughing stalks (1958), Atlantis (1967),
Cross-section (1980) and Continuation (1981).