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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Canadian Voices (for Marvin Orbach, RIP)

Canadian Voices

for Marvin Orbach


A daring grew to voice
the wonders of our own perspective:
the fierce of winter
the miracle of spring
sweet of summer, rage of autumn,
the restless politics of guarding wilderness
against the rape of oil,
our little heartbreaks
small triumphs,
against the backdrop
of a powerful geography.
A community of poets found their pride,
sometimes each other,
a rare and wonderful meeting
of inspired minds.
It took a genius of catalyst
to blend these voices and visions:
one man to appreciate and understand...
give us the encouragement
to see “that this was good”
a movement of confidence
chorus of voices blended
in affirmation....
we are the poets of Canada,
Marvin Orbach our flag of nation,
our founder, mentor, eternal emblem.


Katherine L. Gordon
love and gratitude always to Marvin Orbach
for his steadfast encouragement.

Special Collections

The Marvin Orbach Collection of Canadian Poetry

When I was a young teenager I collected butterflies. Then when I got older I started collecting poets. After all aren't poets butterflies? When they write, they take wing.
Thus Marvin Orbach, a book collector and a librarian at the Vanier Library, Concordia University, Montreal, writes of his passion for modern and contemporary Canadian poetry. He began collecting at the age of 17 and by 2002 had developed a collection of approximately 2400 books which he donated to Special Collections. This gift has been recognized by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board as being of outstanding significance and national importance.

Mr. Orbach wanted to keep the collection in his home city of Montreal but happy circumstances brought him into contact with Special Collections which houses important archival fonds of Canadian literary figures such as Alden Nowlan, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Aritha van Herk, and Robert Kroetsch. The gift of such a significant book collection is a perfect complement in presenting the published works of authors who are already represented in the archival holdings.

The Marvin Orbach Collection of Canadian Poetry has representative works from the 19th to the early 20th centuries but the greatest strength is in works by poets who began being published in the 1960s, the era which produced an explosion of poetry by such writers as Irving Layton, Ralph Gustafson, Miriam Waddington, Dorothy Livesay, P.K. Page, and Leonard Cohen. Many of these works are personally inscribed to Mr. Orbach and often contain a poem in manuscript. In addition, there are manuscripts, letters, and advertisements for poetry readings as well as translations into other languages by poets such as Margaret Atwood and Irving Layton. The collection is being continually strengthened by additional donations from Mr. Orbach.

In an article published in Concordia's Thursday Report (March 18, 2004), Mr. Orbach notes that his collection is his thanks to the country that accepted his parents after they left Eastern Europe. I love Canada. This collection is my gift to Canada.

It is indeed a gift which Special Collections shares with Canada. At the present time there is a finding aid for the collection available.

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Thanks, Sheila  ;  )
I sent my blog post to Quill & Quire, & the editor is going to do a tribute on Marvin!

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase wrffffffffffffffffffff!

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On 2015-03-17, at 3:22 PM, Sheila Martindale wrote:

Yes, wonderful stuff, both the poem and the special collections piece.  Thanks, and Godspeed to Marvin on his final journey.


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Hi Ariella,
I'm pleased you like Katherine's poem & the blog tribute to your dad  ;  ) Marvin was an inspiration for Canadian poets coast to coast to coast & generation to generation!

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrffffffffffffffffffff!

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On 2015-03-17, at 12:41 PM, Ariella Orbach wrote:

Wow, beautiful...

Thanks for forwarding, and for sending along the other blog entries concerning my father. I'll be sending all of this to my mother as well, and I know that it will make her smile.

The question you ask me about the continuity of the collection at UofC is one that has been in the back of my mind. My father never mentioned anything about this, I imagine because his passing was not anticipated. I've posed the question to the folks at Calgary who take care of the collection, to see what they think. Unfortunately, neither my mother nor I inherited the expertise to continue in his name. I'll certainly keep you informed of any decisions, especially ones regarding forwarding of correspondence.

Thanks again for this!! and I'll be in touch with a photo + text soon.


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On 2015-03-22, at 11:38 AM, Pearl Pirie wrote:

Hi Chris
What a shock that Marvin Orbach has died. Lovely man. Every death is a reminder to hug your loved ones.

Thanks for spreading the word. Hopefully Quill & Quire will get at that story soon.


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