Christopher Dewdney

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Christopher Dewdney (born May 9, 1951) is a prize-winning Canadian poet and essayist. He is the son of Canadian artist and author Selwyn Dewdney, brother of Alexander Keewatin Dewdney, and the great-grand-nephew of Edgar Dewdney (Lieutenant-governor: British Columbia 1892—97, Northwest Territories, 1881—88).


Dewdney was born in London, Ontario, and moved to Toronto in 1980. The London art scene (and, in particular, the artists Greg Curnoe and Jack Chambers), was a major influence on his career, as was his upbringing in a family where science and art were valued highly and in equal measure. That his work reflects this interest in both art and science "is borne out by the fact that his poetry can be found in either the poetry or natural history sections of book stores and libraries".[1]

Currently a professor at the Glendon campus of York University, Dewdney is the long-time partner of writer Barbara Gowdy.



  • A Palaeozoic Geology of London, Ontario (1974), Coach House Press
  • Fovea Centralis (1975), Coach House Press
  • Alter Sublime (1980), Coach House Press
  • Predators of the Adoration, (1983), McClelland and Stewart
  • Permugenesis (1987), Nightwood Editions
  • The Radiant Inventory (1988), McClelland and Stewart
  • Concordat Proviso Ascendant (A Natural History of Southwestern Ontario, book 3) (1991), The Figures, Mass
  • Demon Pond (1994), McClelland and Stewart
  • Signal Fires (including A Natural History of Southwestern Ontario, books 3 and 4 (2000), McClelland and Stewart
  • The Natural History (2002) ECW Press
  • Children of the Outer Dark, the Poetry of Christopher Dewdney (2007), Wilfrid Laurier Press


  • The Immaculate Perception, (1986), House of Anansi Press
  • The Secular Grail (1993), Somerville House Books
  • Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era (1998), HarperCollins Canada
  • Acquainted with the Night (2004), HarperCollins Canada; Bloomsbury, New York; Bloomsbury, London, England; Locus Publishing, Taiwan; YeWon Media, South Korea; Editions Autrement, France; Makri Publications, Greece.
  • Soul of The World: Unlocking the Secrets of Time (2008), HarperCollins Canada; YeWon Media, South Korea.

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1983 Finalist, Governor General's Award for Poetry (for Predators of the Adoration)
  • 1986 Winner, CBC Literary Competition for Poetry (for A Natural History of Southwestern Ontario)
  • 1986 Finalist, Governor General's Award for Poetry (for The Immaculate Perception)
  • 1988 Finalist, Governor General's Award for Poetry (for The Radiant Inventory)
  • 2004 Finalist, Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction (for Acquainted with the Night)
  • 2005 Finalist, Charles Taylor Prize (for Acquainted with the Night)
  • 2007 Harbourfront Festival Prize

Soul of World, Unlocking the Secrets of Time was listed at number 4 in The Globe & Mail′s 100 Books of 2008. Acquainted with the Night was released as a feature documentary in 2010, and in 2011 the film received a Gemini Award. Dewdney appeared in the classic documentary Poetry in Motion.

Critical evaluation[edit]

"As a poet Dewdney is best known for his pioneering work fusing poetry and science. Soul of the World demonstrates how poets can help us rediscover the wonders that lie hidden within the sciences. It proves that we can sometimes slip through the locked doors that block off the deeper mysteries, using metaphor and the imagination as our keys." Michael Hayward, The Vancouver Sun.

"It is only when we turn to Christopher Dewdney that we discover a poet whose work is made largely of a piece with science." Keith Garebian, The Canadian Forum.

"Within Dewdney's worldview the function of the poet as shaman lies in articulating the link between Umwelt and Innenwelt, between the empirical and the mystic." Karl Jergens, Christopher Dewdney and His Works (1997), ECW Press.

Theoretical contributions[edit]

In his 1986 book, The Immaculate Perception, Dewdney was the first author to describe nature as "divine technology," and language as a "cognitive prosthesis." In this same book he refers to language as an organically derived software downloaded into a child's mind at an early age. He writes that this process leaves a wound of alienation, one that lingers invisible in the unconscious. He calls the wound "language acquisition trauma." His two subsequent non-fiction books, The Secular Grail and Last Flesh, deal with consciousness, media and a possible future evolution of humans. In more recent years his nonfiction havs tackled the broader subjects of night and time.


  1. ^ "Christopher Dewdney : Biography", Canadian poetry Online, University of Toronto Libraries.

External links[edit]