Author Tags: Alcohol, Poetry

John Newlove lived in Vancouver, off and on, from 1960 to 1967, publishing his first two books from B.C. Born in Regina on June 13, 1938, he worked at the UBC Bookstore and taught briefly at David Thompson University Centre in Nelson in the early 1980s. He received the Governor-General's Award in 1972 for Lies and published numerous other books of poetry. Newlove was poetry editor at McClelland & Stewart from 1970 to 1974 and he worked as an editor with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages in the mid-1980s. John Metcalf edited his collected poems, Apology for Absence, in 1993. He described Newlove as "a gentleman, a voracious reader, a superb poet, a collector of antiquities--a very scholarly character in certain ways." Newlove returned to Vancouver for readings in 1986, 2000 and 2003. An alcoholic who suffered a stroke in 2001, Newlove died on December 23, 2003. A memorial tribute was held at the Vancouver Public Library on February 24, 2004 with readings of his work by Colin Browne, Pierre Coupey, Fred Douglas, Warren Dean Fulton, Gerry Gilbert, Bernice Lever, Mike Matthews, John Pass, Jamie Reid and Robert R. Reid. A 2006 documentary on Newlove, directed by Robert McTavish, What To Make of it All? The Life and Poetry of John Newlove, features contributions by fellow poets such as bill bissett and George Bowering. It was shown at the Western Front Lodge on February 8, 2008 to coincide with the launch of a posthumous volume edited by Robert McTavish, A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove (Chaudiere Books $22).


Grave Sirs; Poems. Vancouver : R. Reid & T. Tanabe, 1962.

Elephants, Mothers & Others. Vancouver: Periwinkle P, 1963.

Moving in Alone. Toronto: Contact P, 1965.

Notebook Pages. Lithographs. Toronto, C. Pachter, 1966.

Burn. Platteville, Wis.: 1967.

What they Say. Kitchener, Ont.: Weed/flower P, 1967.

Black Night Window. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1968.

3 Poems. Vancouver: Western P, 1968.

The Cave. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970.

7 Disasters, 3 Theses, and Welcome Home: Click. Vancouver: Very Stone House in Transit, 1971.

Lies. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972.

Moving in Alone. 2d ed. Lantzville, B.C.: Oolichan Books, 1977.

The Fat Man: Selected Poems, 1962-1972. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977.

Elephants. Canadian Poets on Posters 7. Calgary: Poetry Goes Public, 1978.

The Green Plain. Lantzville, B.C.: Oolichan Books, 1981.

Three Poems. Prince George, B.C.: Gorse Press, 1985.

The Night the Dog Smiled. Toronto: ECW Pres, 1986.

Poems. Magnum readings 26. Ottawa: Magnum Book Store, 1993.

Apology for Absence: Selected Poems 1962-1992. Erin, Ontario: Porcupine's Quill, 1993.

A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove (Chaudiere Books 2008). Edited by Robert McTavish. Afterword by Jeff Derksen. 978-0-9781601-1-1

[BCBW 2008]


Saskatchewan-born poet John Newlove, who is often said to have helped put the Prairie province on the literary map, died suddenly in Ottawa on Dec. 23. He was 65. Born in Regina on June 13, 1938 and raised in Kamsack, Sask., Newlove first gained prominence for his poetry in the late 1960s. Fellow poet Paul Wilson says that Newlove was one of the first to write about Saskatchewan, and despite leaving his home province early in his career, its influence never left his writing, which often included images of and references to the Canadian Prairies. In addition to his poetry, Newlove's resumé reflected his travels across Canada. He was a high school teacher in Birtle, Man., a social worker in Yorkton, Sask., worked in radio in Weyburn, Sask. and Regina, was a labourer in B.C., an editor at McClelland and Stewart in Toronto and, in Ottawa, worked for the federal government. One of the first writers-in-residence at the Regina Public Library, Newlove also occupied the post at other institutions, including the University of Toronto and Loyola College in Montreal. Newlove's collection Lies won the 1972 Governor General's Award for poetry. His other honours include awards from the Literary Press Group and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. -- CBC news services

John Newlove Documentary
Press Release (2008)

John Newlove Documentary Screening / Book Launch

Hosted by Jamie Reid, with readings/talk by Jamie Reid and Jeff Derksen

Filmmaker/editor Robert McTavish in attendance.

8pm, Friday, February 8th

The Western Front (303 East 8th Avenue,
Vancouver, British Columbia)
$5 admission, $3 students and unemployed. cash bar.

Come celebrate the life and work of poet John Newlove with a screening of
the documentary What to make of it all? The life and poetry of John
Newlove, and the Vancouver launch of Chaudiere Books' A Long Continual
Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove, edited by Robert McTavish.

About A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove:

A Long Continual Argument is the comprehensive statement of an
acknowledged poetic master craftsman. It includes all the poems John
Newlove chose for his previous selected poems with substantial
additions from all his major collections. All of his later poetry
has been included, as well as integral, critically-acclaimed works
such as the long poem "Notes From And Among the Wars," and many of the
cynically lyric poems that established his early reputation. From his
first chapbook in 1961 to his final epigrammatic poems of the late
1990s, Newlove has been a quiet poetry dealing with unquiet themes. A
poetry that, in the words of Phyllis Webb, "doesn't struggle for
v meaning. It emerges out of his thinking."

John Newlove (1938-2003) was born and raised in Saskatchewan. He began
publishing while working various jobs in Vancouver in the 1960s. His many
honours included the 1972 Governor General's Award for his book Lies, and
the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Founders Award. His works have been
internationally published and translated.

"Newlove was the best of us, the great line, the hidden agenda,
tough as nails and yet somehow with his heart on his sleeve. There was
always a double-take involved when reading his work. His lyrics,
such as "The Weather" were faultless. I devoured and loved his work.
--Michael Ondaatje

To call him "the voice of prairie poetry" misses the target by as
broad a margin as if you called John Milton "the voice of Cromwell's
London." This was the voice of a man who knew what it was like to
almost drown, to gasp for air, to almost drown again. His poetry
delivered a blow to the head then, and it does now. It will be seen
again for what it was, and is: major in its time and place.
--Margaret Atwood
(from John Newlove: Essays on His Works, forthcoming)