Robert Priest

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Robert Priest
Robert Priest.jpg
Robert Priest in 2007
Born 1951 (age 63–64)
Occupation Author
Genre Children's literature

Robert Priest (born July 10, 1951, in Walton-on-Thames, England) is a Canadian poet, children's author and singer/songwriter. He has written ten books of poetry, two children's novels, three children's albums, and four CDs of songs and poems. Under the alias of "Dr Poetry", Priest has also performed on CBC Radio's spoken-word show "Wordbeat" and is well known for his aphorisms and his hit Song Instead of a Kiss. His adult poetry is wide-ranging, while his children's poetry is more tender, underpinned with utopian hopefulness. Canadian novelist and short story writer Barbara Gowdy has described him as "the voice of the people and the angels, entwined" and the Toronto Star has called him "passionate, cocky, alternately adoring and insulting." Priest's plays, novels and songs have earned him awards and recognition in Canadian literary circles and a growing worldwide readership. His fourth CD of songs was called Feeling the Pinch.


Born in 1951, his family emigrated to Toronto, Canada, at the age of four. His father had been an officer in the British Navy, and his mother had been a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS), popularly known as the Wrens. Growing up in Scarborough, Priest developed a love of literature from the fanciful stories his mother often told before bedtime. By the age of eight, Priest says, he had already begun to dream of becoming a writer. In 1970 he entered the University of Waterloo to study mathematics, but soon dropped out and decided to write poetry instead. Since his first book of poetry (The Visible Man, 1979), he has published nine more books of poetry, four plays, a children's novel and a hit song. He is also a former singer, having released several rock albums and videos in the 1980s and 1990s and performing children's songs for the long-running television show Sesame Street. He lives in Toronto with Marsha Kirzner and is a regular contributor to Toronto's weekly magazine Now.

Awards and recognition[edit]

The author of 14 books of poetry, he won the Milton Acorn Memorial People's Poetry Award for The Mad Hand (1988). Under his "Dr. Poetry" alias, he wrote and performed thirteen segments for CBC radio's spoken-word show Wordbeat. As a songwriter, he co-wrote (with Nancy Simmonds) the international hit, "Song Instead of a Kiss" for Alannah Myles. His aphorisms have already appeared in the Farmers' Almanac and Colombo's Canadian Quotations. He is the author of four plays, including The Coming, which was co-written with Leon Rooke. Priest's musical play Minibugs and Microchips received a Chalmers Award. His novel, Knights of the Endless Day (1993) received an Our Choice Award from the Canadian Children's Book Centre. Among his children's poetry, Daysongs Nightsongs and The Secret Invasion of Bananas and Other Poems (2002) are on a recommended reading list compiled by the CBC.

Selected bibliography[edit]

Adult poetry

Children's Poetry and Fiction

  • The Short Hockey Career of Amazing Jany (1986)
  • Knights of the Endless Day (1993)
  • A Terrible Case of the Stars (1994)
  • The Secret Invasion of Bananas and Other Poems (2002) ISBN 1-896860-97-4
  • Rosa Rose, with illustrator Joan Krygsman. (Wolsak and Wynn, 2013). ISBN 978-1894987738
  • The Paper Sword (Dundurn, 2014), a young-adult fantasy novel. ISBN 978-1459708266

External links[edit]