Knister, (John) Raymond (1899–1932) By Pinder, Kait
Raymond Knister was one of Canada’s earliest modernist writers. Although Knister is best known as an imagist poet, he wrote and published work in a wide range of genres, including poetry, novels, short stories, book reviews, literary criticism, and one play. Born and raised in the farmlands of southern Ontario, Knister was called the ‘farmer who was poet too’ by fellow Canadian poet Dorothy Livesay. Knister’s writing career, which began in the 1920s, coincided with an age of Canadian nationalism, and despite the fact that Knister found it easier to publish in the USA. than in Canada, he was a great supporter of developing Canadian literature. Like other writers of this time, such as Morley Callaghan and A. J. M. Smith, Knister insisted upon the development of a unique national literature that would remain connected with international literary movements, like modernism, but would be neither an imitation of other literatures or produced for the ephemeral tastes of the market. Knister’s writing career was cut short when he drowned on 29 August 1932, while on holiday with his wife at Lake St Clair in Ontario.