New Brunswick Author Portal

Fred  Cogswell
Categories: Male AuthorsAnglophone AuthorsPoetsAuthors of Non-FictionSaint John River Valley

photo of author
Source: New Brunswick Canada


Dr. Fred Cogswell was born in East Centreville, New Brunswick, on November 8, 1917. Poet, editor, translator, and professor, he was an important figure in maintaining New Brunswick’s poetic tradition.

Cogswell joined the English department at the University of New Brunswick in 1952; he was named professor emeritus in 1983. He served as editor of The Humanities Association Bulletin, Fiddlehead Poetry Books, and two volumes of The Atlantic Anthology. Most notably he was founder and editor of The Fiddlehead (1952 – 1967), through which he gained national importance as a pioneer of English-language publishing, lending a voice to writers who would otherwise never be heard.

Cogswell took an interest in Québecois verse, and his translations of these works (such as in One Hundred Poems of Modern Quebec, 1970) connected him to a larger movement. He was also a prolific writer himself, and from his first publication in the 1930s he wrote continuously. His work is marked by adherence to convention and mastery of form and language, and considered to be exemplary of the art and craft of poetry. At his death on June 20, 2004 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cogswell had over 40 books of his own poetry published.

Dr. Fred Cogswell was awarded three honorary degrees from Canadian universities; winner of the Alden Nowlan Prize for Excellence in the Literary Arts; and the recipient of the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation. He was a Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets, the Association of Canadian Publishers, and the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick. He was a Member of the Order of Canada and posthumously named to the Order of New Brunswick.

What is your favourite New Brunswick book, and why?

David Galloway: Which of your books do you value most?

Fred Cogswell: Of what I've written? I think probably The Stunted Strong, because what I was doing there was writing out, rather consciously, what was my unconscious feeling about the atmosphere in which I grew up. So that meant a great deal to me. A book which I published, I think, in 1968, Star People, meant a great deal to me because it represented, I suppose, my response to something of the freedom and the chaos that came with the 1960s. So that meant quite a lot. So, it seems to me, is the book which I wrote after my daughter's death from cancer, Pearls.

Literary Prizes

Order of New Brunswick - 2004
Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation - 1997
Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in English Language Literary Arts - 1995
Honorary Doctorate of Law, Mount Allison - 1988
Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law, King's College - 1985
Honorary Doctorate of Law, St. Francis Xavier University - 1983
Order of Canada - 1981
Bliss Carman Poetry Award - 1947
Bliss Carman Poetry Award - 1945

Featured Publication

The Stunted Strong


O narrow is the house where we are born,
And narrow are the fields in which we labour.
Fenced in by rails and woods that low hills neighbor
Lest they should spill their crops of hay and corn.
O narrow are the hates with which we thorn
Each other’s flesh by gossip of the Grundies.
And narrow are our roads to church on Sundays,
And narrow too the vows of love we’ve sworn.

But through our fields the Saint John river flows
And mocks the patterned fields that we enclose:
There sometimes pausing in the dusty heat
We stretch cramped backs and lean upon our hoes
To watch a sea-gull glide with lazy beat
To wider regions where the river goes.

Find this author in the New Brunswick public libraries catalogue.


  • Williamson, Margie. Four Maritime Poets: a survey of the works of Alden Nowlan, Fred Cogswell, Raymond Fraser and Al Pittman, as they reflect the spirit and culture of Maritime people [microform]. 1972 & 1974.
  • Bauer, Nancy. “Fred Cogswell: Creating space and time.” Art Atlantic. 3.4 (1981): 34-35.
  • Galloway, David. “SCL Interviews: Fred Cogswell.” Studies in Canadian Literature. 10.1 (1985).
  • Communications New Brunswick. “Order of New Brunswick recipients announced.” Press Release. 2 August 2004.
  • Rossignol, Pierre. Theme and form of the poetry of Fred Cogswell [microform]. Laval University: Archives Division, 1990.