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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 wrote a monthly newspaper column called CultureWatch for twelve years for the Yukon News. Brian Brett inaugurated the B.C. Poetry-In-The-Schools program in 1974, 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, LitFest, the Calgary Spoken Word Festival, the Calgary 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 is the author of 13 published works in fiction, poetry, and memoir, and has been a journalist for forty years. He is also the author of two CDs of ‘talking songs.’ He has been published in 24 Anthologies, as well as numerous fine-print broadsides and folios, magazines, and newspapers too numerous to mention. He currently lives on a farm with his family on Salt Spring Island, B.C., where he cultivates his garden and creates ceramic forms.
*To Your Scattered Bodies Go, (new poems, forthcoming)
*Feasts: Selected Food Poems of Brian Brett (forthcoming)
*Tuco: The Parrot, the Others, and the Scattershot World (Memoir/meditation), (Greystone, Fall 2015)
*The Wind River Variations (Poems and Prose Poems), Oolichan, Christmas, 2012
*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
*Talking Songs (with Scattered Bodies, Dreamtower Records, 2014)
*Night Directions For The Lost: The Talking Songs of Brian Brett (with The Salt Spring Collective, Tongue & Groove Records, 2003)
PAMPHLETS, BROADSIDES, BROADSIDE FOLIOS, ETC.,
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.
ANTHOLOGIES & INTRODUCTIONS:
*Poems from Planet Earth, (Poetry), Leaf Press, Winter 2013
*In The Flesh, Twenty Writers Explore the Body, (Essays) Brindle & Glass, ed. by Lynne Van Luven & Kathy Page, 2011
*Measure of the Year, (introduction), by Roderick Haig-Brown, Touchwood Editions, 2011
*The Heart Does Break: Canadian Writers on Grief and Mourning, (Essays) Random House. Ed. By George Bowering and Jean Baird. Random House. 2009
*Open Wide A Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems, (Poetry) 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) Peepre/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) ed. By Sean Virgo. 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, Enroute, etc., Several hundred newspaper articles too numerous to mention.
RELEVANT CRITICISM ABOUT BRIAN BRETT
Speculative Fiction: A Teaching Resource, Jesse Stothers, Thistledown Press
AWARDS, GRANTS, OFFICES, UNDERTAKINGS, ETC.,
*Short Term Canada Council Writer In Residence, Fraser Valley Regional Library, 1987.
*Several Canada Council Grants.
*Writer’s Quarterly Annual Story Competition, Runner-up, 1988.
*The Writer’s Union of Canada, various position: B.C. Representative… Float… Second Vice-Chair…
First Vice-Chair, Chair, 2005….
*Producer of poetry events at Vancouver International Writer’s Festival, Fall 1991, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2014.
*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
*Instructor at UBC MFA Creative Writing program (Fiction and Poetry) 2006 to present.
*Listed as Globe Book of the Year for both Uproar’s Your Only Music and Trauma Farm.
*Listed in Times Literary Supplement 100 best books of the year for Trauma Farm
*Winner of the 2009 Writers Trust Canadian Non-Fiction Award.
*Winner of BC Book Prize – Bookseller’s Choice. 2010.
*Shortlisted for the William Saroyan Prize.
*Shortlisted for the Haig-Brown and Hubert Evans Prize.
*Longlisted for the BC Achievement Award.
*Winner of the IPPY Bronze Medal.
*Winner of the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year, Nature Writing Award. 2010.
*Writer-In Residence, City of Whistler. 2010
*Winner of the CBC Literary Award for Poetry, 2011.
*Faculty at Banff Spoken Word School, Spring, 2011
*Host/Organizer of the Vancouver Writers’ Festival Honouring Patrick Lane event, 2012
*Awarded the BC 2012 Lieutenant-Governor’s Prize for Achievement in the Arts and Cultural Service.
*Host/Organizer of the Vancouver Writers’ Festival Poetry Evening, 2013.
*Chosen – Trauma Farm – 100 Canadian Books To Read In A Lifetime – Amazon/49th shelf, 2014
*Host/Organizer of the Phyllis Webb Celebration, 2014
*Winner of the Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Prize, 2014
*Organizer of the Vancouver Writers’s Festival’s celebration of Robert Bateman’s birthday 2016
*Toronto Public Library for Writer-In-Residence, winter 2016
*Writers’ Trust Matt Cohen Award for Lifetime Achievement, November 2016