Literary Birthday – 23 January – Fred Wah

Happy Birthday, Fred Wah, born January 23, 1939.


  1. We would rather be anywhere, as long as we are somewhere. We would rather be anyone, as long as we are someone.
  2. Well, I want to write, you know, there’s lots of writing I want to do and lots of reading. You know, all of those hundreds and thousands of books that you kind of poke away in these book shelves and every year you never really get a chance-
  3. I still like handwriting, particularly because I find my own handwriting hard to read and I enjoy the thinking generated by my own mis-reading. I love the poignancy of mistakes. A fellow poet told me recently about her ‘wrecked’ poem. I bet there’s some really interesting material in the ‘wreck’.
  4. How one works in the world is pretty much the way one works in the poem. ‘Shape!’ The poem is the shape you are in. I mean, even little things like paying attention to the minute shifts in words: syllables, the tone leading of vowels, that wonderful texture and grain in the movement of the paradigmatic thought suffixes (rime) patterning themselves through the poem, thus time and space . . .

Fred Wah is a Canadian poet, novelist, scholar and former Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Wah is the author of over 20 books of poetry and prose-poetry including Waiting for Saskatchewan, which won the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1985. Faking It: Poetics & Hybridity, Critical Writing 1984–1999 won the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian Literary Criticism. Diamond Grill, which uses elements of autobiography, fiction, and poetry won the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction. In 2013 he was made an Officer in the Order of Canada.

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Amanda Patterson

by Amanda Patterson.

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Posted on: 22nd January 2020