Author Tags: Poetry, Travel
David Zieroth formerly published as Dale Zieroth. In 1999 he won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for How I Joined Humanity at Last (Harbour). Ten years later he won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry for his eighth collection, The Fly in Autumn (Harbour).
Dave Zieroth was born in Neepawa, Manitoba on November 7, 1946, near where his grandfather settled. He published his memoirs of growing up as the son of industrious German parents, The Education of Mr. Whippoorwill, in 2002. Memories of the prairies are notable in his poetry which contains, according to George Woodcock, "images of dark and almost Proustian luminosity." Zieroth studied history at the University of Manitoba before moving to Toronto where he worked for the CBC and House of Anansi. In 1973 he moved with his family to Invermere, B.C. to take a job as a park naturalist in Kootenay National Park. From that perspective he wrote a brief history of Radium Hot Springs and a poetry collection called Mid-River. He received his M.A. from Simon Fraser University in 1986. His poems are included in the Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English and the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. In the late 1990s he reclaimed his original first name David after being known by his middle Dale ever since a second grade teacher had found it too difficult having two Davids in her class. Zieroth edited the magazine Event from 1985 to 1996 and he taught creative writing at Douglas College in New Westminster for twenty-five years before retiring and founding the Alfred Gustav Press. He lives in North Vancouver.
Of his chapbook, Hay Day Canticle (Leaf Press), he writes: "A portrait of an agricultural feed-supply salesman may be an unusual subject for a poem, and how I came upon the speaker in Hay Day Canticle is not entirely clear, but as his story presented itself to me, I followed him from prairie-farm childhood through first sex to marriage, affairs, baseball. At the time I had been reading Louis MacNeice's Autumn Sequel, a poem whose use of rhyme had long interested me. I suddenly found myself using MacNeice's form, and the result is this nine-part narrative, each part consisting of eight three-line stanzas, a shape helpful in releasing and containing the man's song of tragedies and joys."
The November Optimist (Gaspereau 2013) is a non-fictional, humourous love story combining fiction, observation and anecdote.
Foreign artwork and unfamiliar music can be an elixir for creativity, and so David Zieroth has responded to great artists such as W.H. Auden, James Joyce and Albrecth Durer for an autobiographical travelogue, Albrecht Durer and Me: Travels, 2004 to 2014 (Harbour $18.95). Zieroth tempers the highs and lows of wanderlust with "knowledge that can only arrived at by leaving home." Art, music, history, war and architecture inspire poems rife with evocative imagery, sensory detail and Zieroth's customary humility.
Clearing: Poems from a Journey (Anansi, 1973)
Nipika: A Story of Radium Hot Springs (Parks Canada, 1978) -- pamphlet
Mid-River (Anansi, 1981)
When the Stones Fly Up (Anansi, 1986))
The Weight of My Raggedy Skin (Polestar, 1991)
How I Joined Humanity at Last (Harbour, 1998)
Crows Do Not Have Retirement (2001).
The Education of Mr. Whippoorwill (McFarlane, Walters & Ross, 2002) -- memoir
The Village of Sliding Time (Harbour 2006)
The Fly in Autumn (Harbour 2009)
Hay Day Canticle (Leaf Press 2010) $10 978-1-926655-19-2
The November Optimist (Gaspereau 2013) $24.95) 978-1554471270
Albrecht Durer and me: Travels, 2004 to 2014 (Harbour 2014)$18.95 978-1-55017-674-2
[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2014] "Poetry"
How I Joined Humanity At Last
Remarks upon receiving the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for How I Joined Humanity At Last (Harbour).
ZIEROTH: “Over there in North Vancouver, where lots of things don’t happen, poetry happens, and I’m really proud about that. It’s just great to be in a province that has lots of poets. I’m happy to be part of that tribe... Some of you may know me as Dale. My full name is David Dale Zieroth. When I was in grade one, there were two Davids in the class. The teacher made me be Dale. About four years ago I decided, ‘Oh, the heck with that. It’s time for me to be David again.’ So I’m David now.”
[BCBW SUMMER 1999]
The Village of Sliding Time (Harbour $16.95)
from Hannah Main-van der Kamp
A successful long poem is an immersion, a trance, an emotional time capsule which leaves the reader changed, “been away.” This is characteristic of all good writing but the long poem form is particularly suited to the rambling nature of childhood memories.
The poet/child is in no hurry and can unfold details and take detours. David Zieroth begins this account with the night of his own conception, continues through early childhood to schooldays and ends with his family’s move to B.C. Taken by the hand by his young alter-ego who has “the gift of sliding time,” he leaves North Van and revisits the Manitoba farm where Zieroth grew up in the 1950s, disproving the adage, “You can’t go home again.”
Zieroth skillfully avoids cynicism and nostalgia, engrossing the reader in a memory album that is not narrative, although narratives are implied, as he describes his young father as “learning unselfishness among the nest of us.” He also recalls: “The women and their connection/with eggs of hens, ducks, geese/ carrying in their red hands/ the delicate life/ always close to the hurt things first/ the first to know.”
A halfbreed muskrat trapper and his family are “nomads/ never worried about/ seeds washed away/ or choked out.” Loneliness, family ties, farmyard slaughter and schoolboy pranks; this is a loving but not mawkish reminiscence. The undertone is an awareness of death that insures against the sentimental.
With tenderness for the boy he was, the poet returns to his sixty-something West Coast identity and has learned, “I haven’t left behind what came with me.” It amounts to an engaging and highly readable memoir. 1-55017-388-X
Vancouver Poet Wins Governor General's Literary Award
Press Release (2009)
Vancouver poet David Zieroth has won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry for his eighth collection, The Fly in Autumn (Harbour Publishing, $18.95).
The winners of the Governor General's Literary Awards were announced in Montreal on November 17.
"I am honoured the jury selected The Fly in Autumn for this award," Zieroth remarked in his acceptance speech, "and I am deeply grateful to live in a country that supports its poets. I am grateful my grandparents came to Canada from Germany, grateful my parents encouraged my reading though at times were bewildered by my writing.... I'm thankful for the community of poets and poetry lovers in North Vancouver, and for the kinship among poets across Canada."
The jury--composed of Janice Kulyk Keefer, George Murray and John Pass--notes that "The Fly in Autumn is a note-perfect rendering of the poet's greatest challenge--to risk oneself in the name of knowing and feeling. It reveals that quietness need not mean silence, that modesty need not mean invisibility, and that comfort is not always found in ease."
The Fly in Autumn is a nuanced work with an absurdist twist in which recognizable landscapes--of North Vancouver quays and piers and harbour fog--are sometimes irrevocably altered by "water-light" into places of the mind alive with "the hundred thousand thoughts everyone collects in a day."
David Zieroth's poetry has appeared in dozens of anthologies and he has written eight other books, among them The Village of Sliding Time, Crows Do Not Have Retirement and his memoir, The Education of Mr. Whippoorwill: A Country Boyhood. Zieroth won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 1999 for his collection How I Joined Humanity at Last and he also recently released a chapbook, Berlin Album, earlier this year. He taught at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC, for twenty-five years before retiring and founding the Alfred Gustav Press. Born in Neepawa, Manitoba, he lives in North Vancouver, BC.
The Canada Council's Governor General's Literary Awards are awarded in English and French in the categories of fiction, non fiction, poetry, drama, children's literature (text and illustration) and translation. 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the awards, which are considered one of Canada's most prestigious literary prizes. The winning author in each category receives $25,000 and each finalist receives $1,000.
The other nominees for the Governor General's Award for Poetry were David W. McFadden for Be Calm, Honey (Mansfield Press), Philip Kevin Paul for Little Hunger (Nightwood Editions), Sina Queyras for Expressway (Coach House Books) and Carmine Starnino for This Way Out (Gaspereau Press).
Nominated for The Fly in Autumn
BC Book Prizes (2010)
from BC Book Prizes catalogue
The Fly in Autumn is a nuanced work with an absurdist twist in which recognizable landscapes — of North Vancouver quays and piers and harbour fog — are sometimes irrevocably altered by “water-light” into places of the mind alive with “the hundred thousand thoughts everyone collects in a day.” Using language both tender and ironic, Zieroth’s poems range from the cockiness of flight to the inevitability of decline. Still, the poet remains alert to the re-emergence of “his boyhood hope: to be brave, to ship out, to learn to sleep on waves.” David Zieroth’s poetry has appeared in dozens of anthologies and he has written eight books including How I Joined Humanity at Last, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 1999. He taught at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC, for 25 years before retiring and founding the Alfred Gustav Press. He lives in North Vancouver.