As I listened to December readings from various years in the SGW Poetry Series – to mark the end of this year, 2019 – I started exploring the reading by Daryl Hine. At first, I considered selecting his reading of the final poem, “The Trout,” but then I noticed something else: a note for one timestamp (00:42:19) indicating that Hine introduced and read “an unknown poem.” As I listened to his introduction, I realized that he was preparing the audience for the now-famous poem “Point Grey,” which, at the time of this reading, was not published. In fact, the introducer of Hine at the start of the reading mentioned that Minutes, the collection that contained “Point Grey,” would be published in 1968. (Notably, that voice of the introducer was listed as unknown too but sounds a great deal like Margaret Atwood, possibly meaning that this was the first time that Atwood heard “Point Grey,” a significant point to expand upon elsewhere and to confirm through an Audio of the Week in the new year.) Returning to this audio clip of the poem, the unpublished state of “Point Grey” is audible through the sound of the pages turning – suggesting that Hine read from sheets of paper not a book – and especially in his decision to re-start and read a different version. He introduced the poem by describing its view from the University of British Columbia, or Point Grey, clarifying that “I don’t mean the university by any of the architectural things I mention in this poem, but I’m talking about the beach, a very beautiful, barren Pacific beach that lies below Point Grey.” Many years ago I heard this poem read in a classroom at UBC, overlooking the same view where “rain makes spectres of the mountains.” Even without its title, here was “Point Grey” on this recording as I listened from Montreal, where this poem was read in 1967, soon to be published in 1968 and anthologized in poetry collections for years to come.
Listen to the entire recording here.