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Fred Wah was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1939, but he grew up in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia.
Studying at UBC in the early 1960s, he was one of the founding editors of the poetry newsletter TISH.
After graduate work with Robert Creeley at the University of New Mexico and with Charles Olson at SUNY, Buffalo, he returned to the Kootenays in the late 1960s, founding the writing program at DTUC before moving on to teach at the University of Calgary. A pioneer of on-line publishing, he has mentored a generation of some of the most exciting new voices in poetry today.
Of his seventeen books of poetry, is a door received the BC Book Prize, Waiting For Saskatchewan received the Governor-General’s Award and So Far was awarded the Stephanson Award for Poetry. Diamond Grill, a biofiction about hybridity and growing up in a small-town Chinese-Canadian café won the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction, and his collection of critical writing, Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity, received the Gabrielle Roy Prize.
The Talonbooks Fred Wah and Friends” poetry night was a big success. We invite you to enjoy the poetry videos from the event on the Talonbooks YouTube page.
To learn more about his work, visit The Fred Wah Digital Archive
March 2013 : Fred Wah and Friends at Words on the Water!
October 2012 : Fred Wah Reads at Gala Event in Calgary
April 2012 : Fred Wah at Charles Olson Centenary
March 2012 : A Celebration of Robert Kroetsch in Edmonton
March 2012 : Poet Laureate Reads in Ottawa!
January 2012 : An Interview with Fred Wah
December 2011 : Fred Wah Is Our Poet Laureate!
December 2011 : Talonbooks Presents Karl and Christy Siegler's Farewell Bash
August 2011 : Uniform Landscapes / Hybrid Dialogue
August 2011 : Poetry is Dead: Chain Letters to the City of Vancouver
January 2011 : North of Invention: A Canadian Poetry Festival
BOOK AWARDSSentenced to Light
Finalist for the 2009 ReLit Award for Poetry
BOOK AWARDSis a door
Winner of the 2010 BC Book Prize: Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize”
QUOTES OF NOTEis a door
“Wah’s poems continually return us to … the realization of our shared, not individual, life.”
— Montreal Gazette
“These four sequences are what we once called trips, not so much to Mexico and Thailand and the Koots, as out of syntax toward a world in which words are things indeed, or at least are treated as such. You may feel as if you’ve had a stroke and are trying mightily to read right. Predicates can appear as if out of the dark. This is where Wah has been leading us, conscious as all get out, innocent as a lynx. This is what happens to a language when someone finally gets it away from the people it was named after.”
— George Bowering
“Without a doubt, is a door is a dazzler, a thoughtful, playful and stunningly skillful four-part foray into the nature of ‘suddenness’ and its inherent ability ‘to subvert closure’ on the brink of unexpected entrances and exits.”
— Globe & Mail”
QUOTES OF NOTESentenced to Light
“The cover as a composition is inspired like the whole book—there is a minimalism in it—it is so structured yet never over-wrought—the shadow of the figure and camera ’producing’ the composition (literally) of the book fully—here then—I think—I place it next to Nichol’s Martyrology. I think too it’s as great, as astonishing as bissett’s major self-anthologized books. The ’visual’ intelligence that informs this book is extraordinary! I admire it’s clarity—’Sentenced’ so far is my favorite poem in the book but that says nothing—there are too many! His book is an exhibition, a performance, a documentary and the montage, its potency, is seamless. This book is an extraordinary gift.”
— Carl Peters
“For those new to Wah’s work, Sentenced to Light provides an accessible and beautifully produced introduction to a major poet. For longtime readers, it offers a reminder that Wah, as he enters the fifth decade of his career, is continually returning to origins—to memory, vision, and the body—in renewing his poetry. ‘The cradle,’ Wah declares ‘ is where I want to be.’”
— Boog City
“One has the sense of Wah’s effort to catch inspiration in its everydayness and at its most raw and vital.”
— Canadian Literature”
QUOTES OF NOTEBreathin' My Name With a Sigh
“The impact is immediate … and the reader is able to experience Wah’s insight and respond to his graceful rhythmic tone.”
— Windsor Star”
QUOTES OF NOTESelected Poems: Loki Is Buried at Smoky Creek
“The concept which dominates Wah’s writing is that the geographical and historical particulars which immediately surround a man not only contain all history but together form a place that is for that man the true centre of the cosmos.”
—Frank Davey, From There to Here
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program; and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.