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Posted: Tuesday March 23, 2010
Phyllis Webb

Phyllis Webb was born on April 8, 1927 in Victoria, BC. She was educated at the University of British Columbia and McGill University. The first major publication of her poetry was in Trio, which also included poetry by Eli Mandel and Gael Turnbull. For many years she worked as a writer and broadcaster for the CBC, where she created the radio program “Ideas” in 1965 and was its executive producer from 1967 to 1969. Webb served as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta from 1980 to 1981 and taught at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and the Banff Centre. She is a life member of the League of Canadian Poets and currently resides on Salt Spring Island, BC.

Her 1980 work Wilson’s Bowl was hailed by Northrop Frye as “a landmark in Canadian poetry.” When the book had been passed over for a nomination for the Governor General’s Award, a group of fellow poets—led by Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, bpNichol and P.K. Page—collected $2, 300 and sent it to Webb, stating that “this gesture is a response to your whole body of work as well as to your presence as a touchstone of true good writing in Canada, which we all know is beyond awards and prizes” (John F. Hulcoop).

As Stephen Scobie once wrote, the work of Phyllis Webb “has always been distinguished by the profundity of her insights, the depth of her emotional feeling, the delicacy and accuracy of her rhythms, the beauty and mysterious resonance of her images—and by her luminous intelligence.”

Phyllis Webb received the BC Gas Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, the Order of Canada in 1992, and the 1982 Governor General’s Award for Selected Poems: The Vision Tree.



LATEST Phyllis Webb NEWS

January 2016 : Best of 2015

September 2015 : Webb belongs in all CanLit libraries!

April 2015 : A Packed House for Phyllis Webb on Saltspring Island

April 2015 : Malahat Review hails Peacock Blue as “literary event of the year”

February 2015 : The Vancouver Sun recommends Phyllis Webb

January 2015 : Our Best of 2014, According to the Year-End Lists

December 2014 : Happy Holidays! Bundle Up

November 2014 : Launched! Our Fall 2014 “Septuplets”

November 2014 : New Arrivals, Right on Time for Tonight’s Launch

November 2014 : T-Minus One Week to Talon’s Fall 2014 Launch!

October 2014 : Tickled Pink Over Peacock Blue

July 2014 : Our Fall 2014 Lineup!

July 2014 : Fall 2014 Catalogue

June 2013 : Phyllis Webb in the Poet’s Corner of the Sunday Times

BOOK AWARDS

Selected Poems: The Vision Tree

Winner of the 1982 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry

QUOTES OF NOTE

Peacock Blue [softcover]

“Webb’s poetic oeuvre displays a range and formal daring … unmatched in Canadian letters. … she has been and remains one of our finest, most linguistically sensitive poets. … Peacock Blue should long have a place in any and all CanLit libraries”
Canadian Literature

“Surely, Peacock Blue is the literary event of the year. Reading this life-in-words, it is obvious that Al Purdy is not now our reigning voice – Phyllis Webb is. She has engendered her full scope – by silences – by retreats – unto a woman’s lyric authority.”
Malahat Review

“A tremendous revelatory moment/encounter … one of the major books of poetry in English of the last fifty years (anywhere).”
– John Kinsella

“Reading her work this way is like watching the seasons change, for people who have been writing as many years as she has don’t ordinarily stand still for long. … she has remained active politically, gradually settling on a mixture of anarchism, feminism and environmentalism that is to be found only on the West Coast. … Peacock Blue is a most important book. It’s both a testament and a trophy.”
Vancouver Sun

“a vibrant intelligence coupled with a wry wit … Webb’s dedication to social justice is evident in her poetry. … It’s evident from this book that Webb knew many of the major Canadian writers. She dedicates poems to many writers, she refers to writers, and she celebrates the words of others. Trying to capture [this volume] in a review is like trying to catch wind. There’s too much and it’s too powerful. Ultimately all I can say is [‘Read this poet’].”
– Maple Tree Literary Supplement

"Webb’s life’s work is a book to return to again and again for its virtuoso music, its philosophical breadth, and its moments of comfort and sanctification"
– Bruce Whiteman, Canadian Notes & Queries

QUOTES OF NOTE

Peacock Blue [hardcover]

“Webb’s poetic oeuvre displays a range and formal daring … unmatched in Canadian letters. … she has been and remains one of our finest, most linguistically sensitive poets. … Peacock Blue should long have a place in any and all CanLit libraries”
Canadian Literature

“Surely, Peacock Blue is the literary event of the year. Reading this life-in-words, it is obvious that Al Purdy is not now our reigning voice – Phyllis Webb is. She has engendered her full scope – by silences – by retreats – unto a woman’s lyric authority.”
Malahat Review

“A tremendous revelatory moment/encounter … one of the major books of poetry in English of the last fifty years (anywhere).”
– John Kinsella

“Reading her work this way is like watching the seasons change, for people who have been writing as many years as she has don’t ordinarily stand still for long. … she has remained active politically, gradually settling on a mixture of anarchism, feminism and environmentalism that is to be found only on the West Coast. … Peacock Blue is a most important book. It’s both a testament and a trophy.”
Vancouver Sun

“a vibrant intelligence coupled with a wry wit … Webb’s dedication to social justice is evident in her poetry. … It’s evident from this book that Webb knew many of the major Canadian writers. She dedicates poems to many writers, she refers to writers, and she celebrates the words of others. Trying to capture [this volume] in a review is like trying to catch wind. There’s too much and it’s too powerful. Ultimately all I can say is [‘Read this poet’].”
– Maple Tree Literary Supplement

"Webb’s life’s work is a book to return to again and again for its virtuoso music, its philosophical breadth, and its moments of comfort and sanctification"
– Bruce Whiteman, Canadian Notes & Queries


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