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Billy, Mary

  • Person
  • 1936-2015

Mary Billy, born May 31, 1936, was a feminist, activist and writer. Billy was born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, but carried out most of her professional life in Squamish, British Columbia. She worked as a taxi driver, coordinator of a women’s centre and school bus driver before discovering herself as a writer.
Billy self-published a collection of short writings and poems titled In The Turning: Summer Journal of a Sojourner in the Women’s Movement in 1986. She was strongly influenced by Margaret Laurence and Al Purdy. In 1988, she attended the West Coast Women & Words Writing School and Retreat at the University of British Columbia.
In 1989, Billy released the first edition of Facing the Horror: The Femicide list, a list of names and short synopses of the incidents of women murdered in Canada by men since first anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 1989.
In 1989, Billy founded Herspectives magazine, a quarterly journal of writings by women. Herspectives published work by both emerging and seasoned women writers and provided a lively forum for a broad range of women’s issues until it ceased publication in 1995.
Billy published another book of poetry, Over The Falls, in 1998. During that year, she also was awarded the International Helen prize, named after Dr. Helen Caldicott, which honors “ordinary women for their many heroic, significant, but often unrecognized contributions to the quality of life on our planet.” Billy received this award in recognition of mentoring young women, her many years as a feminist activist and for maintaining The Femicide List.
In 2001, Billy published her third collection of poetry, Under My Blue Hat, followed by a fourth collection, She is Carved in Stone, in 2009.
Billy remained a dedicated feminist and activist into her retirement and until her death in 2015. She produced a line of Happy International Women’s Day greeting cards, made dishcloths for The Stephen Lewis Foundation on HIV/AIDS in Africa and contributed to The Defiant Women’s Support Fund. She had three daughters and four grandchildren.

Birnie, Lisa Hobbs

  • Person
  • 1928-

Lisa (Hobbs) Birnie’s career as a journalist and author has spanned six decades and three continents. She is the author of nine books of nonfiction, including The Death and Life of Sue Rodriguez, and I Saw Red China, which hit the New York Times best-seller list. She has interviewed Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Woody Allen, Clare Boothe Luce, William Shatner, Joan Crawford, Burt Lancaster and Timothy Leary. In Mania’s Memory, the interwoven stories of two women, one a Jewish child in Auschwitz, the other a female Nazi guard, whose lives miraculously reconnect years later, was published in 2010.

bissett, bill

  • Person
  • 1939-

bill bissett (born William Frederick Bissett, November 23, 1939) is a Canadian poet known for his anti-conventional style. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, bissett (who deliberately does not capitalize his name) attended Dalhousie University (1956) and the University of British Columbia (1963-1965) but dropped out of both universities because of his desire to live as a free agent, writer and painter unencumbered by academic constraints. He did complete course requirements for his two majors in English and Philosophy. He moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1958. In 1963 he started the blew ointment magazine and later launched blewointment press, which has published volumes by Cathy Ford, Maxine Gadd, Michael Coutts, Hart Broudy, Rosemary Hollingshead, Beth Jankola, Carolyn Zonailo, bpNichol, Ken West, Lionel Kearns and D. A. Levy. bissett is based in Vancouver and Toronto, Ontario, alternating between the two cities. He is known for his use of a unique orthography and incorporating visual elements in his printed poetry, and his performance of "concrete sound" poetry, sound effects, chanting, and barefoot dancing during his poetry readings. He has also had large exhibits of his paintings and made audio recordings. He was the lyricist and vocalist in the Ontario band, Luddites. His work typically ranges from the mystical to the mundane, incorporating humour, a sense of wonder and sentimentality, and political commentary.

Blakemore, Trevor

  • Person
  • [1880]-1953

Trevor Blakemore (b. Chislehurst, d. 1953) was an English poet, essayist and lawyer; his books include Star-Dust and China Clay. He was a member of the Tomorrow Club from 1917 to 1940 and was president of Britain's oldest literary club, the Portfolio Club. Blakemore was married to Ann Driver, a broadcaster (Music and Movement) with the BBC.

Blaser, Robin

  • Person
  • 1925-2009

Robin Blaser was born in Colorado on May 18, 1925, and raised in Idaho. He was educated at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a principal member of the group of poets that became known as the ‘Berkeley Renaissance’, together with Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. In 1955 he moved to Boston, where he worked as a librarian at Harvard’s Widener Library. He returned to San Francisco in 1959 where he worked at the California Historical Society and San Francisco State University. He moved to Vancouver, BC in 1966 and worked for Simon Fraser University, where he taught in the English Department until his retirement as a Full Professor in 1986. He became a Canadian citizen in 1972. Blaser has influenced and mentored many writers, including Stan Persky, Brian Fawcett, Sharon Thesen, George Bowering, and Phyllis Webb, among others. He has published numerous works of poetry, many of them sections of a single long serial-poem collected in The Holy Forest (1993). He was also an essayist, librettist, and editor, most notably of The Collected Books of Jack Spicer (1975). In 1995 his achievement was celebrated with a major conference, The Recovery of the Public World, held in Vancouver and attended by many notable Canadian and American poets. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2005. In 2006 he received a special Lifetime Recognition Award from the trustees of the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. He also won the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry in 2008 for his revised and expanded edition of The Holy Forest (2008). In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Simon Fraser University. Blaser wrote and resided in Vancouver, BC until his death in 2009.

Bök, Christian

  • Person
  • 1966-

Christian Bök (born Christian Book, August 10, 1966) is a Canadian experimental poet. He grew up in Toronto and began writing seriously in his early twenties while earning his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Carleton University in Ottawa. In the early 1990s he returned to Toronto to study for a Ph.D. in English literature at York University, where he encountered prominent poets, including Steve McCaffery, Christopher Dewdney, and Darren Wershler-Henry. His collection Eunoia was awarded the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize. In 2005 he took a teaching position in the English Department at the University of Calgary.

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