Brian Brett

Link to Short Biography

191 Meyer Road, Salt Spring Island, B.C., V8K 1X4

Phone (250) 653-2377 Fax (250) 653-2376 e-mail


Born in Vancouver in 1950, he studied literature at Simon Fraser University from 1969 to 1974. Writing and publishing since the late 1960s, he has also been involved in an editorial capacity with several publishing firms such as the Governor-General Award winning Blackfish Press.

In the early seventies, he began working as a free lance journalist and critic for various publications and newspapers, including The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Vancouver Sun, The New Reader, Books In Canada, The Victoria Times-Colonist, and The Vancouver Province -- where he was the poetry critic for two years, and had his own column. His journalism has appeared in almost every major newspaper in Canada, and his essays in most of the major magazines. He is currently writing a monthly newspaper column called CultureWatch for the Yukon News.

Brian Brett inaugurated the B.C. Poetry-In-The-Schools program, introducing children in schools to world poetry for a period of several years, and has taught or given workshops on writing across Canada. He has been a member of organizations ranging from P.E.N. International, The League of Canadian Poets, the B.C. Federation Of Writers, to the Writer's Union of Canada. While a member of the League of Canadian Poets he performed a National Reading Tour under their auspices. He has also given readings on the CBC and various other media as well as public performances funded by private organizations, universities, Harbourfront, Vancouver International Writers' Festival, Saltwater Festival, Sechelt Writers’ Festival, the Calgary/Banff Writers’ Festival, the Winnipeg Writers’ Festival, National Book Festival, and the Canada Council. In May 2005 Brian Brett became the Chair of The Writer’s Union of Canada.

Brian Brett currently lives on a farm with his family on Salt Spring Island, B.C., where he cultivates his garden and creates ceramic forms.


*The Wind River Variations (Forthcoming)

*Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life (Memoir / Natural History) Greystone, Fall 2009

*Uproar's Your Only Music (A Memoir in Poetry and Prose), Exile, 159 pages, Fall 2004

*Coyote (Novel) Thistledown, 426 pages, Fall 2003.

*The Colour Of Bones In A Stream, Sono Nis, (Poems}, Sono Nis, 88 pages, 1998.

*Allegories of Love and Disaster (Long Poem): Exile, 99 pages, 1993.

*Poems: New and Selected, Sono Nis, 194 pages, 1993.

*Tanganyika (Short Stories), Thistledown, 208 pages, 1991.

*The Fungus Garden (Novel), Thistledown, 127 pages, 1988.

*Evolution In Every Direction (Prose Poems), Thistledown, 71 pages, 1987.

*Smoke Without Exit (Poems), Sono Nis, 68 pages, 1984.

*Fossil Ground At Phantom Creek (Poems), Blackfish, 65 pages, 1976


Night Directions For The Lost: The Talking Songs of Brian Brett, Tongue & Groove Records, 14 cuts, Fall 2003


Monster (Prose Poems/Poems), White Rhino, 1981. Savage People Dressed In Skins (Long Poem), White Rhino, 1978. Green Light Stones & Trees, (with Allan Safarik), (Pamphlet), Cold Turkey Press, 1977. The Great Bear Constellation, (Broadside), 1973. The West Coast, (Broadside Folio), Blackfish, 1972.


*Open Wide Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems, Wilfred Laurier Press, ed. by Nancy Holmes. 2009

*A Verse Map of Vancouver, (Coffee Table Book), ed. By George McWhirter, Anvil Press, 2009.

*Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide (Poetry & Prose), Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke, 2008.

*Writing The West Coast, Ronsdale Press, 2008.

*Three Rivers: The Yukon's Great Boreal Wilderness (Coffee Table Book), Harbour Publishing, 2005.

*Rendezvous With The Wild (Coffee Table Book) Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

*The Eye In The Thicket (Natural History Essays) Thistledown Books 2002.

*Mocambo Nights, ed. by Patrick Lane, Ekstasis Editions, 2001.

*Lost Classics ed. by Ondaatje, Spalding, Redhill (Essays) Anchor Classics, 2001.

*In The Clear (Fiction & Poetry) Thistledown Books, 1998.

*What is Already Known (Fiction & Poetry) Thistledown Books, 1995.

*How I Learned To Speak Dog (Poetry & Prose) Douglas & McIntyre.

*Witness To Wilderness (Poetry & Prose), Arsenal Pulp Press, 1994.

*Because You Loved Being A Stranger, (Poems) ed. by Susan Musgrave, Harbour Publishing, 1994.

*Myths & Voices (Short Stories), White Pine Press, U.S.A.,1993.

*The Last Map Is The Heart (Short Stories), Thistledown Books, 1989.

*15 Years In Exile, Exile, 1992.

*Vancouver Poetry (Poetry), Polestar Press, 1986.

*For Rexroth (Poetry), The Ark, 1980.

*Western Windows (Poetry & Prose), Commcept Publishing Ltd., 1977.

*A Government Job At Last (Poetry), MacLeod Books, 1977.


Spring Rain, Quarry, White Pelican, Sound Heritage, Pulp, Tractor, West Coast Review, Inscape, Poetry Canada Review, Literary Storefront Newsletter, CVII, Dandelion, Western Living, The New Quarterly, Highway One, Brick, Exile, Equinox, etc., Several hundred newspaper articles too numerous to identify individually.


Several Canada Council Grants. Short Term Canada Council Writer In Residence, Fraser Valley Regional Library, 1987. Writer's Quarterly Annual Story Competition, Runner-up, 1988. The Writer's Union of Canada, B.C. Representative, Float, and Second Vice-Chair, First Vice-Chair, and Chair (2005/2006). Producer of poetry events at Vancouver International Writer's Festival, Fall 1991, 2005. Several B.C. Cultural Branch Writing Awards. Literary consultant for Salt Spring Summer Festival 1991-1998, Writer In Electronic Residence, Writer's Development Trust, Winter 1992. Short listed for 1993.B.C. Book Prize - Poetry. Co-producer of the internationally televised Great Clayoquot Sound Writers' Benefit - November, 1993. Co-producer of the Theatre Alive! Annual Erotic Literary Evening & Benefit, 1995-1998. Master of Ceremonies at the Vancouver International Writers' Festival bill bissett tribyoot, 1997. Writer-in-residence, Yukon Public Library System, Winter 1998. Writer's Development Trust - Writer-In-Electronic Residence - 1998 spring semester, Instructor at Victoria School of Writing - July 2002. Poetry Instructor at Malaspina University – Spring 2005. Writer-In-Residence, Haig-Brown House, Campbell River –2007/2008. Instructor at UBC MFA electronic program (Fiction and Poetry), since 2006.


Speculative Fiction: A Teaching Resource, Jesse Stothers, Thistledown Press


"Against the full spectrum of poetic response to nature, Brett's own work measures up well. He chants, searches, and hungers for an understanding of man's relationship to natural disorder... his work can sing... Fossil Ground At Phantom Creek is an admirable body of work." PACIFIC NORWEST REVIEW

"Brian Brett's Monster is subtitled "An Autobiography." Using the idea of the self as monster, Brett's pure poems appear to mythologize his life, fusing it with the life of the race: the monster he discovers is both man and god and animal and thing." CANADIAN LITERATURE

"Brian Brett is a powerful writer and there's plenty of adventure, exciting descriptions and fantasy here [The Fungus Garden]. " THE WHIG STANDARD

"Brett's poetic language and imagery propel us full-force toward the sad denouement of this short novel [The Fungus Garden]. Along the way we are treated to a richly textured fable of life and death among the termites. It is a truly voracious experience." THE VANCOUVER SUN

"Smoke Without Exit is an unusual book of poetry. The poems are so well structured that the reader is caught, held, and forced to experience the violence of the night...."RUBICON

"[Smoke Without Exit]... a forced march through the rain forest...."SANDRA McKENZIE

"The forty-five prose poems in this collection [Evolution In Every Direction] won't disappoint readers attracted by the book's striking cover, which uses the author's own photograph of a cactus flower... Public library patrons will find Brett a fresh voice in the Canadian poetry section." CANADIAN MATERIALS

"[The Fungus] Garden joins its descriptive and narrative strands in a weft that disturbs as it dazzles. A good acquisition for graduate, undergraduate, and public libraries with contemporary fiction."CHOICE

"Brett writes with a poet's flair for drama [The Fungus Garden]." OTTAWA CITIZEN

"Brett assembles his surreal tale [The Fungus Garden] with considerable ingenuity. His details of hive life are inventive: there is much gruesome action and striking scenery." BOOKS IN REVIEW

"Actually, The Fungus Garden is so compelling that one simply wants to keep on reading. Its original storyline almost demands a sequel. What will Brett think up next?" THE TORONTO STAR

"Brett's specialty is finding the unusual among the commonplace." THE MONTREAL GAZETTE

"With inventive settings, lyrical descriptions and sophisticated use of dream imagery, Brett has created [Tanganyika] a myriad of complex worlds to perplex and stimulate the reader." THE VANCOUVER SUN

"Most poets who are neglected are rightfully neglected, but Brian Brett's poetry you pass over to your own loss. If you have not read at least some of these poems, you cannot have understood." JOHN NEWLOVE

"Brett's poetry transforms us with its richness and its passion. He is metamorphic, whether he writes of the intimacy of his lovers and friends or of the spiritual world of the land around him. He has changed us for twenty years and those changes, sometimes troubling, sometimes sweet, have always left us asking for more." PATRICK LANE

“ With Coyote, Saltspring Island poet Brian Brett pulls the wings off a few genre cliches in one of those rare, hypnotically compelling novels that keeps the reader turning just one more page until the dawn-song of birds warns it's already a long tired day.” JOHN MOORE, THE VANCOUVER SUN

“With his new novel, Saltspring Island poet and novelist Brian Brett has created a postmodern, Gulf Island-based, Buddhism-infused, eco-psycho-killer thriller. Coyote is at once leisurely paced and thrilling, thought-provoking and humorous, character-focussed and intellectually challenging. ROBERT J. WIERSEMA, QUILL & QUIRE, 2003

“The most exciting Canadian book I’ve read all year is Brian Brett’s memoir and new poems, Uproar’s Your Only Music (a phrase from Keats), just published. These 160 pages – which begin “My grandmother was a flower girl in Piccadilly – are distilled from 50 years of an extraordinary, hard and brilliant life….Written with the charm and intensity of all Brian Brett’s finest work, the prose and verse halves of Uproar form a diptych of outstanding power and beauty.@ RONALD WRIGHT. GLOBE AND MAIL - BOOKS OF THE YEAR.

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