Crawley, Alan (1887–1975) By Lang, Anouk
Alan Crawley (born in Cobourg, Ontario on 23 August 1887; died on Vancouver Island in 1975) was an editor and critic who played a significant role in the development of modernist Canadian poetry in the 1940s and 1950s. A lawyer by training, he was rendered blind in his forties, and his enforced retirement left him the time to pursue his interest in modern poetry. In 1941 he was approached by four west coast poets, Dorothy Livesay, Floris McLaren, Doris Ferne and Anne Marriott, to edit a magazine that they felt was sorely needed as a vehicle for contemporary Canadian poetry. The resulting periodical, Contemporary Verse, ran from September 1941 to 1953, publishing over 120 poets during its 39-issue run. Contemporary Verse, which Crawley edited first from Vancouver and later from Victoria, proved an important forum for both emerging and established Canadian poets. Crawley took pains to encourage younger poets, especially women, and sent constructive critiques and perceptive comments both to those whose contributions he accepted and to those he rejected. In addition to his editorial duties, Crawley also did occasional public outreach activities such as radio broadcasts, poetry readings and speaking tours, which he used to introduce Canadians to contemporary poetry from both their own nation and from abroad.