Confederation Poets

A distinct New Brunswick literature emerges in the work of the Confederation poets. Possessing, finally, the rootedness and loyalty to place, the familiarity with landscape, and the leisure to create imaginative worlds, this group of Fredericton poets become not just the first school of New Brunswick writers but also the first distinctly nationalist group in a fledgling Canada. 

A major theme in New Brunswick literature makes its first appearance in Roberts’s “The Tantramar Revisited.” That theme is outmigration, which strikes a sharp contrast to Oliver Goldsmith’s depiction of growth and prosperity in The Rising Village (see Pre-Confederation Writers and Poets). While outmigration and economic disadvantage will be explored in greater depth by later poets such as A.G. Bailey (see Modernism and the Fredericton Ferment), Alden Nowlan, and Elizabeth Brewster (see Confessional Humanism), that this dominant theme of New Brunswick appears here, just after Confederation, is not coincidental.

 

One of the most significant departures from earlier writers is how the Confederation poets treat landscape. Unlike pre-Confederation writers such as Adam Allan and William Leggett, who treat landscape solely through description, the Confederation poets explore the effect of landscape on the human psyche, examining the ways that environment seeps into consciousness.

 

For the full Module Page on the Confederation Poets, click here.