I don’t have a long history of reading Kroetsch; in fact, before this past Winter semester, I wasn’t familiar with him at all. I took Christian Riegel’s Long Poetry class from Campion without a whole lot of knowledge in the subject matter.
Of the authors studied in the course, Kroetsch was an immediately compelling one. Completed Field Notes, the Kroetsch text we were studying, was a great mix of inventive structures, fine observations, and personal recollections that were intellectually interesting and emotionally resonant.
Riegel noted a few times that considering Completed Field Notes a long poem was complicated. Many of the works contained within had been published previously, whether as standalone works or in magazines or what have you. But – and here is where I’m majorly paraphrasing and hopefully won’t completely misrepresent Riegel on the matter – if we consider the part of the poet’s task as that of continuous autobiography, then this book, almost like the life of Kroetsch, could be read as a single long poem.
Something else Riegel pointed out was that the word “completed” in the title was a little ironic, since Kroetsch never finished adding to his Field Notes.
From everything I’ve heard, he was a man who was well loved, well respected, and who never stopped living. His Completed Field Notes may now be wrapped up, but his legacy in Canadian literature certainly isn’t.