Author Tags: Poetry, Politics, Travel

Born in Calgary on December 3, 1969, Karen Connelly received the Pat Lowther Award for her first book of poetry, The Small Words in My Body, published by the Kalmalka New Writers Society in Vernon. She first came to B.C. in 1998 and has been writer-in-residence at the George Ryga Centre in Summerland. She has lived much of her life abroad, particularly in Greece. In the 1990s she began her involvement with the people of Burma and their plight under a repressive military regime. She has visited Burma and spent considerable time on the Thai-Burmese border, as reflected in her fourth poetry collection, The Border Surrounds Us, and her first novel, The Lizard Cage (Knopf, 2005), about a Buddhist protestor arrested by Burmese secret police and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The novel appeared when Connelly had moved to Toronto. It was followed by the candid travel memoir, Burmese Lessons: A Love Story.

Connelly has won the Pat Lowther Award, the Governor-General's Award and Britain's Orange Broadband New Novelist's Prize.

Selected Publications:

The Small Words in My Body (Kalamalka Press, 1990; Gutter Press, rev. ed., 1995)
This Brighter Prison: A Book of Journeys (Brick Books, 1993)
Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal (Turnstone Press, 1992)
One Room in a Castle (Turnstone Press, 1995; HarperCollins Australia, 1996)
The Disorder of Love (Gutter Press, 1997)
The Border Surrounds Us (McClelland & Stewart)
The Lizard Cage (Knopf, 2005)
Burmese Lessons: A Love Story Knopf, 2009)
Come Cold River (Quattro Books, 2013)
The Change Room (Random House, 2017)


Air Canada Award for Promising Young Writer, 1986.
The Pat Lowther Memorial Award for Small Words in My Body, 1990.
The Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction for Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal, 1993.

[BCBW 2017] "Poetry" "Politics"

The Border Surrounds Us (M&S $16.99)

Denied a third visa to enter Burma (a police state currently known as Myanmar), Karen Connelly went to the Thai-Burmese border and interviewed Burmese political exiles.

“It was like peeling the gauze off an infected wound,” she says. “Each man and woman told how he or she was tortured, the methods, how long, where, if they ever knew, which prison they were sent to after...”

Connelly’s poems in The Border Surrounds Us (M&S $16.99) are frequently inspired by rebel soldiers, migrant workers and haunted refugees.

“Every single person—rebel soldier in jungle camp, woman nurse, woman medic, woman doctor, diplomatically inclined dissident in town or city, prostitute, migrant worker, journalist-with-two-names, thousands upon thousands of ethnic refugees, whose histories of oppression are written plainly on their faces—every single person was a miracle. Each of them had survived.”

Brick magazine recently published Connelly’s Burmese memoir; a non-fiction book will follow. 0-7710-2245-X