Brian Brett

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Brian Brett
Brian Brett.jpg
Canadian writer Brian Brett in July 2009
Born (1950-04-28) 28 April 1950 (age 67)
Alma mater Simon Fraser University
Occupation poet, novelist

Brian Brett (born 28 April 1950) is a Canadian poet and novelist.[1] He studied literature at Simon Fraser University from 1969 to 1974. Writing and publishing since the late 1960s, he has also been involved in an editorial capacity with several publishing firms such as the Governor-General's Award winning Blackfish Press.


Brian Brett in conversation with Silver Donald Cameron about his work.

In the early 1970s, Brett began working as a freelance journalist and critic for various publications and newspapers, including The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Vancouver Sun, The New Reader, Books in Canada, the Victoria Times-Colonist and Vancouver's The Province—where he was the poetry critic for two years, and had his own column. His journalism has appeared in almost every major newspaper in Canada, and his essays in most of the major magazines. For a decade he wrote a monthly newspaper column called CultureWatch for the Yukon News.

Brett inaugurated the B.C. Poetry-in-the-Schools program, introducing children in schools to world poetry for a period of several years, and has taught or given workshops on writing across Canada. He has been a member of organizations ranging from P.E.N. International, the League of Canadian Poets, the Federation of BC Writers, to the Writers' Union of Canada. While a member of the League of Canadian Poets he performed a national reading tour under their auspices. He has also given readings on CBC Radio and various other media as well as public performances funded by private organizations, universities, Harbourfront, Vancouver International Writers Festival, Saltwater Festival, Sechelt Writers’ Festival, Wordfest: Banff Calgary International Writers Festival, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, National Book Festival, and the Canada Council. In May 2005, Brett became chair of the Writers' Union of Canada.[2]

He lives on his farm on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

In his 2004 memoir Uproar's Your Only Music, Brett wrote about growing up with a rare endocrine disorder known as Kallmann syndrome, meaning that his body does not naturally produce sex hormones. By the age of 20, he had still not entered puberty, and was believed by his parents and doctors to be intersex until his Kallmann diagnosis. He began taking testosterone in adulthood.[3]

In November 2009, Brett won Canada's Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize for Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life. The book describes a typical day in the life of his farm, with insight into the natural history of farming. The jury called the book “a lively, well-researched blend of memoir and socio-political commentary; a rare celebration of youth, age, and the tumultuous, surprising journey between them.”[4]

In 2016, the Writers' Trust of Canada awarded Brett the Matt Cohen Lifetime Award to honour his body of work.[5]


  • Fossil Ground at Phantom Creek - 1976
  • Smoke Without Exit - 1984
  • Evolution in Every Direction - 1987
  • The Fungus Garden - 1988
  • Tanganyika - 1991
  • Poems: New and Selected - 1993
  • Allegories of Love and Disaster - 1993
  • The Colour of Bones in a Stream - 1998
  • Coyote - 2003 ISBN 1-894345-53-3
  • Uproar's Your Only Music - 2004 ISBN 1-55096-607-3
  • Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life - 2009 ISBN 978-1-55365-474-2
  • The Wind River Variations - 2012 ISBN 0889822697
  • Tuco: The Parrot, the Others, and a Scattershot World - 2015 ISBN 1771640634



  • Poems from Planet Earth, (Poetry), Leaf Press, Winter 2013
  • In The Flesh, Twenty Writers Explore the Body, (Essays) Brindle & Glass, ed. by Lynne Van Luven & Kathy Page, 2011
  • Measure of the Year, (introduction), by Roderick Haig-Brown, Touchwood Editions, 2011
  • The Heart Does Break: Canadian Writers on Grief and Mourning, (Essays) Random House. Ed. By George Bowering and Jean Baird. Random House. 2009
  • Open Wide Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems, Wilfrid Laurier Press, ed. by Nancy Holmes. 2009
  • A Verse Map of Vancouver ed. By George McWhirter, Anvil Press, 2009.
  • Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide (Poetry & Prose), Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke, 2008.
  • Writing The West Coast, Ronsdale Press, 2008.
  • Three Rivers: The Yukon's Great Boreal Wilderness Harbour Publishing, 2005.
  • Rendezvous With The Wild Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
  • The Eye In The Thicket (Natural History Essays) Thistledown Books 2002.
  • Mocambo Nights, ed. by Patrick Lane, Ekstasis Editions, 2001.
  • Lost Classics ed. by Ondaatje, Spalding, Redhill (Essays) Anchor Classics, 2001.
  • In The Clear (Fiction & Poetry) Thistledown Books, 1998.
  • What is Already Known (Fiction & Poetry) Thistledown Books, 1995.
  • How I Learned To Speak Dog (Poetry & Prose) Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Witness To Wilderness (Poetry & Prose), Arsenal Pulp Press, 1994.
  • Because You Loved Being A Stranger, (Poems) ed. by Susan Musgrave, Harbour Publishing, 1994.
  • Myths & Voices (Short Stories), White Pine Press, U.S.A.,1993.
  • The Last Map Is The Heart (Short Stories), Thistledown Books, 1989.
  • 15 Years In Exile, Exile, 1992.
  • Vancouver Poetry (Poetry), Polestar Press, 1986.
  • For Rexroth (Poetry), The Ark, 1980.
  • Western Windows (Poetry & Prose), Commcept Publishing Ltd., 1977.
  • A Government Job At Last (Poetry), MacLeod Books, 1977.


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