Frank Oliver Call

Frank Oliver Call, poet, travel writer, professor (b at West Brome, Que, 11 Apr 1878; d at Knowlton, Que, 1956). A life-long academic, Call received his BA with first class honours in French and English (1905) and his MA (1908) from BISHOP'S UNIVERSITY in his native QUEBEC.

Frank Oliver Call

Frank Oliver Call, poet, travel writer, professor (b at West Brome, Que, 11 Apr 1878; d at Knowlton, Que, 1956). A life-long academic, Call received his BA with first class honours in French and English (1905) and his MA (1908) from BISHOP'S UNIVERSITY in his native QUEBEC. He later attended the universities of Paris and Marburg, earning his DCL (Doctor of Civil Law), and conducting his post-graduate studies at MCGILL UNIVERSITY. From 1908 until his retirement, Call served as a professor of modern languages at McGill and Bishop's University. He is considered a key transitional figure in the evolution of Canadian POETRY. Call's poetic style is seen as a bridge between the Victorian-styled Confederation poetry of Bliss CARMAN, Archibald LAMPMAN and Duncan CAMPBELL SCOTT and the modernist work of such poets as E.J. PRATT and Dorothy LIVESAY.

In addition to writing poetry, Frank Oliver Call published two travelogues: The Spell of French Canada (1926) and The Spell ofACADIA (1930). These two texts emphasize the beauty of the two regions, and showcase Call's love and understanding of his home province of Québec and the French experience in Nova Scotia.

Call is most noted, however, for his numerous poetry publications, including In A Belgian Garden (1916), Acanthus and Wild Grape (1920), Blue Homespun (1924), and Sonnets for Youth (1944). Acanthus and Wild Grape is the most famous of these publications, particularly for its poetic form. The collection is divided into two parts: Acanthus follows the more traditional, Victorian-styled poetic form, while Wild Grape experiments with free verse. In the foreword to Acanthus and Wild Grape, Call defends and promotes the modernist movement, stating that the modernist poet "has joined the great army of seekers after freedom." This defence of the modernist movement and the combination of poetic styles in his verse is what underlines Frank Oliver Call's place as a key transitional figure in Canadian poetry.

Frank Oliver Call won the Quebec Literary Competition Award in 1924, for his sonnet collection Blue Homespun. He served as president of the Eastern Townships Art Association (1942-43), and was a member of the advisory council on awards for Canadian Poetry Magazine (1936-45), the CANADIAN AUTHORS ASSOCIATION and PEN Club.


Further Reading

  • Avrum Malus, Diane Allard and Maria Van Sundert, "Frank Oliver Call, Eastern Townships Poetry, and the Modernist Movement,"Canadian Literature 107 (1985).