JILES, Paulette




Author Tags: Fiction, First Nations, Poetry

Born in Salem, Missouri in 1943, Paulette Jiles has lived in the Canary Islands, North Africa, the Arctic and Nelson. She received her B.A. in Spanish literature at the University of Missourri. In 1974 she was sent by CBC to work in a remote north Ontario community called Big Trout Lake, knowing precious little about the north. After seven years among the northern Cree and Ojibway peoples who call themselves Anishinabe, she wrote a reflective memoir North Spirit: Travels Among the Cree and Ojibway Nations and Their Star Maps (Doubleday 1995).

After her first poetry collection, Waterloo Express (1973), Jiles' second poetry collection, Celestial Navigation (1983), won all three major Canadian poetry prizes in 1984, including the Governor-General's award. Her Sitting in the Club Car Drinking Rum and Karma Kola: A Manual of Etiquette for Ladies Crossing Canada by Train (Polestar 1986) is about a woman on the lam, crossing Canada by train. It was reprinted in 2003. Her futuristic novel is The Late Great Human Road Show (Talonbooks, 1986) set in post-nuclear Toronto where there isn't any fresh food, running water, gasoline or television--but resourceful characters endure in comic ways. Other titles are The Jesse James Poems, Cousins and a 1988 U.S. collection, Blackwater, which appeared on the New York Times Recommended List. Her prose collection, Song to the Rising Sun, includes her Actra Award-winning play Money and Blankets.

[BCBW 2003] "Fiction" "Poetry" "First Nations"

Lighthouse Island (HarperCollins $19.95)
Article (2013)



Here’s how the world works: currently doing a stint at the Quatsino Lighthouse on Northern Vancouver Island, BC BookWorld contributor Caroline Woodward first met poet and novelist Paulette Jiles in 1983 at David Thompson University Centre in Nelson. They collaborated on Starving Artist Dinner parties, the Kootenay School of Writing and CBC radio pieces. When Woodward worked as a publicist for Polestar Press in the Kootenays, in the late 80s, Jiles had just published Sitting in the Club Car Drinking Rum and Karma Kola and several books of poetry with them. Over many decades, they stayed in touch. When Woodward sent Jiles one of her partner Jeff George’s annual wall calendars, Jiles loved his spooky, fog-bound night image of the Lennard Island Lighthouse near Tofino, which she had visited while researching her latest book. Jiles emailed the image to her New York editor. Now HarperCollins has bought the image so it can adorn Jiles’ new dystopian novel, Lighthouse Island (HarperCollins $19.95), set in a formidable North American future. Larry McMurty has bought the screen rights for Jiles’ previous novel, The Colour of Lightning.

Lighthouse 9780062293596