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About Robert Bringhurst

Robert Bringhurst has published more than a dozen books of poetry, including Bergschrund (1975), The Beauty of the Weapons (1982), Pieces of Map, Pieces of Music (1986), The Calling: Selected Poems 1970–1995, and The Book of Silences (2001). With Doris Shadbolt, Geoffrey James and Russell Keziere, he coedited Visions: Contemporary Art in Canada (1983), which after twenty years remains one of the few essential works on Canadian visual art since the Second World War. With Haida sculptor Bill Reid, he is coauthor of The Raven Steals the Light (1984), recently reissued with a preface by Claude Lévi-Strauss. The Black Canoe (2nd ed., 1993), Bringhurst’s study of Reid’s sculpture, is a classic of Native American art history. Design schools, trade and academic publishers throughout North America and Europe rely on his book The Elements of Typographic Style (3rd ed., 2004). His groundbreaking study of a Native American oral literature, A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World (1999), unleashed a storm of controversy and a tidal wave of praise. This was followed by two volumes of translation of Haida oral poetry: Nine Visits to the Mythworld (2000) and Being in Being: The Collected Works of Skaay of the Qquuna Qiighawaay (2001).

His most recently published translation is The Fragments of Parmenides (2003) – the remains of an intensely intellectual yet vividly narrative classical Greek poem composed in southern Italy 2,500 years ago. His most recent book of poetry is Ursa Major (2003), a multilingual work in which the characters tell simultaneous stories in English, Latin, Greek and Cree.

Bringhurst’s work appears in The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse; The Penguin Book of Canadian Verse; The Norton Introduction to Poetry; W.H. New’s Canadian Short Fiction: From Myth to Modern; Douglas Fetherling’s Best Canadian Essays; Washburn, Major & Fadiman’s World Poetry; Brian Swann’s Coming to Light: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America, and other major anthologies. He was poet-in-residence at the Banff School of Fine Arts in 1983, writer-in-residence at the University of Winnipeg in 1986, Guggenheim Fellow in poetry in 1988–89, writer-in-residence at the University of Edinburgh in 1989–90, writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario in 1998–99, and Philips Fund Research Fellow at the American Philosophical Society in the year 2000.

Bringhurst delivered the American Printing History Association’s annual Lieberman Lecture for 1993 at the Clark Library, ucla; Trent University’s Ashley Lectures on Native American oral literature in 1994; the University of Iowa’s Brownell Lecture on the History of the Book for 1997; the University of British Columbia’s Garnett Sedgewick Memorial Lecture for 1998 and the 1998 Georg Svensson Lecture at the Royal Library in Stockholm; Wilfrid Laurier University’s annual Laurier Lecture and the culminating lecture of the San Francisco Public Library’s Zapfest, both in 2001, the University of Manitoba’s annual Belcourt Lecture in Linguistics for 2002, and in the same year, the keynote lecture at the 16th triennial congress of the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs.