Don began his poetry writing career with a number of long poems based on historical figures from Canada’s past. He felt more comfortable composing poems that were somewhat distant from his own persona (although there was a lot of him in them). However, in the last fifteen years he has shifted to writing short lyrical poems, most of them set in his home village of Point Edward, Ontario, and many dealing with his family and friends. Tidings is a quintessential example of his late work.
The first section deals with portraits of characters from the village, remembered mostly from a childhood perspective. The second and third sections are about his present life, particularly about the ageing process and the business of poetry writing itself. He has been heavily influenced by the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dylan Thomas and Al Purdy, giving his poems a strong rhythmic sense and a feeling of forward, narrative movement. He was fortunate to grow up in such a lively and memorable village as Point Edward with more than its share of interesting characters and a long and colourful history. Considering also the great lake at its feet and the roaring St. Clair River, Don has had a cornucopia of things to write about and inspire him. He endeavoured to make Tidings strike the delicate balance between nostalgia and ironic distance.