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Stephanie Bolster


Department: English

Faculty: Arts and Science

Stephanie Bolster
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2339
Website(s): The Bookshelf - Stephanie Bolster


Poetry, Contemporary Poetry, Creative Writing, Vermeer, Robert Polidori

Language(s) spoken:

English, French

As a poet, I am interested in perception and representation, with a particular focus on the visual arts, “ruin porn,” architecture, domestic spaces, theme parks, and the “middle landscape” of zoos and gardens. Zoos in particular are central to my most recent poetry collection, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth, and to an anthology I co-edited with Katia Grubisic and Simon Reader, Penned: Zoo Poems. Both projects were supported by grants from SSHRC and FQRSC.

Long Exposure, my current project, is a book-length poem that takes as its starting point Robert Polidori’s post-disaster photographs of New Orleans and Chernobyl. This interrogation of the writer’s relationship to looking and to art-making also concerns itself with, among other subjects, the treatment of Canadians of Japanese ancestry during World War II, and Japan’s 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster. The work troubles distinctions between natural and human-caused disasters and asks questions about individual responsibility and the ethics of a poetry of witness.

As a thesis supervisor, I have worked with students writing in a range of genres and approaches to genre: collections of discrete poems, linked and long poems, lyric essays, cross-genre writing, mixed-media work (writing and textiles; writing and photography), and prose in the form of short fiction and the novel.

As guest editor of the inaugural The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008 anthology, I read all the poetry published in English in Canadian literary journals the previous year. My introduction to the collection offers reflections on this sometimes rewarding, sometimes frustrating, always illuminating process and on the aesthetic and pedagogical implications of literary evaluation.

My poetry has received the Norma Epstein Award (1993), the Bronwen Wallace Award (1996), The Malahat Review's Long Poem Prize (1997), Contemporary Verse 2’s poetry competition (1997), the Governor General’s Award (1998, for White Stone), the Gerald Lampert Award (1998, for White Stone), Mother Tongue Press’ Poetry Chapbook Competition (1998), the Archibald Lampman Award (1999, for Pavilion), and The Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron Poetry Competition (2003), and has been nominated for the Trillium Award (1999) and the Pat Lowther Award (1998 and 2012), and a finalist for the Canada Writes / CBC competition (2012 and 2019).

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