Often based on the unorthodox lives of real people, Michael Ondaatje's poetry and prose is characterized by its preoccupation with multiculturalism and its gravitation toward the bizarre, the exaggerated, and the unlikely.
"A man never lives so innocently that he never gets into trouble," Stephán G. Stephansson mused in 1910 in a letter to an old friend. Stephansson, a farmer and poet in west central Alberta, indeed had been in trouble much of his adult life.
Alfred Earle Birney, poet (b at Calgary 13 May 1904; d at Toronto, Ont 3 Sept 1995). Beginning with David and Other Poems (1942), Birney's poetry consistently explored the resources of language with passionate and playful curiosity.
Leonard Norman Cohen, poet, novelist, singer, songwriter (born 21 September 1934 in Montréal, QC; died 7 November 2016 in Los Angeles, California). Leonard Cohen was one of the most iconic Canadian artists of the 20th century. A sage, mystic, bohemian and romantic, he built an acclaimed body of literary work and a revered career in pop music. In his poetry, novels and music, he constantly probed the human condition, exploring themes of love, loss, death and his commitment to his art. As a poetic and unlikely pop star, his narrow-ranged, gruff voice, which deepened and darkened with age, and his reliance on simple, singsong melodies were complimented by the intense imagery and depth of his lyrics. A Companion of the Order of Canada, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the US Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Folk Music Walk of Fame. He was also granted the Glenn Gould Prize, six Juno Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and numerous other honours.
When I was 16, someone gave me a copy of an anthology of Canadian love poems called Love Where the Nights Are Long. In it were poems by Alden Nowlan, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Avison — and P.K. Page.
George Elliott Clarke, poet, anthologist (b at Windsor Plains, NS 12 Feb 1960). George Elliott Clarke was born near Windsor Plains, a black Loyalist community, and grew up in Halifax. He earned a BA at the University of Waterloo, an MA at Dalhousie, and a PhD at Queen's University.
Dionne Brand, poet, writer, filmmaker, educator and activist (born 7 January 1953 in Guayaguayare, Trinidad).
Dany Laferrière, né Windson Kléber, novelist, essayist, poet and journalist (born 13 April 1953 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti).
Lillian Allen, poet, vocalist, lyricist, community activist, teacher (born 5 April 1951 in Kingston, Jamaica).
Dwayne Morgan, poet, spoken word artist, motivational speaker (b at Toronto 15 Oct 1974). While Morgan's ancestors are from Jamaica, he grew up in Toronto.
Claire Harris, poet (born 13 June 1937 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad). Harris has written numerous collections of poetry since her first volume, Fables from the Women’s Quarters, was published in 1984. Her work has garnered national and international acclaim — she was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, Fables won the Commonwealth Award for Poetry. Harris’ poetry often voices the psychological struggles experienced by women of color who face oppression and violence.
Marlene Nourbese Philip, poet, novelist, essayist (born 3 February 1947 in Moriah, Tobago).
Evelyn Lau, poet, short-story writer, novelist (b at Vancouver 2 July 1971). An award-winning student, Evelyn Lau's first work was published when she was in her early teens. Parental objections to her choice of pursuing a career as a writer led her to run away at age 14.
Phyllis Webb, OC, poet, broadcaster (born 8 April 1927 in Victoria, BC). An Officer of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Governor General’s Award, Phyllis Webb is a writer of stature in Canadian letters, and a groundbreaking feminist poet.
Milton Acorn, poet (b at Charlottetown 30 Mar 1923; d there 20 Aug 1986). A carpenter by trade, Acorn supported himself on a disability pension from an injury sustained during WWII.
Leonard Cohen is backstage at Hamilton Place, having just performed an epic concert for an ecstatic audience. He's still wearing the hat, and with the double-breasted suit that threatens to engulf his slight frame, the rakish fedora lends him the air of a gangster from a lost age.Maclean's
Anne Hébert, CC, poet, playwright, novelist (born 1 August 1916 in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault, QC; died 22 January 2000 in Montréal).
Robert Kroetsch, writer, editor, teacher (born at Heisler, Alta 26 Jun 1927, died at Edmonton, 21 Jun 2011). Kroetsch grew up on his father's farm and studied at the University of Alberta and the University of Iowa.
Lee Maracle, author and critic (born 2 July 1950 in Vancouver, BC).
Patricia Kathleen Page, poet, prose writer, visual artist (b at Swanage, Dorset, England 23 Nov 1916, d at Victoria, BC 14 Jan 2010). With her family, P.K. Page left England in 1919 and settled in Red Deer, Alberta.
Alfred Wellington Purdy, OC, OOnt, poet (born 30 December 1918 in Wooler, ON; died 21 April 2000 in Sidney, BC).
Anne Michaels, poet, novelist (born 15 April 1958 in Toronto, ON). Winner of the Commonwealth Prize as well as the Trillium Book Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Carol Shields, novelist, poet, playwright, biographer (born at Oak Park, Illinois 2 Jun 1935; died at Victoria, BC 16 Jul 2003). Shields was educated at Hanover College, Indiana, the University of Exeter England, and the University of Ottawa.
Elizabeth Smart, writer (born 27 December 1913 in Ottawa, ON; died 4 March 1986 in London, England).