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Literary Biography (poetry)  -  Chris Faiers


Chris Faiers has led a picaresque life. Born on Hamilton Mountain, Ontario, Canada in 1948, his family emigrated to the southern U.S. when he was six. Although a Canadian citizen by birth, he was eligible for the draft for the Vietnam War as a resident alien. Chris became an anti-war activist in Miami, Florida, attending demonstrations, organizing a campus group and publishing an underground newsletter. Around 1968 Chris began writing haiku poetry under the tutelage of Eric Amann, the publisher of Haiku magazine. Chris is internationally respected as an early English language haiku poet and innovator (a haijin). He left the U.S. forever in June 1969 to avoid conscription for the Vietnam War.

Chris lived for two years in the largest commune in the United Kingdom, the derelict Eel Pie Island Hotel in Twickenham. Eel Pie Dharma: a memoir/haibun tells the story of his explorations and adventures in the late '60s and early '70s.

After three years of street-level poverty Chris returned to Canada in 1972 and joined the anti-imperialist Canadian Liberation Movement. In the CLM Chris met poets Milton Acorn and James Deahl and resumed writing poetry, influenced by Acorn's ability to write accessible and lyrical poetry with a political message.

In addition to writing haiku, lyrical and political poetry, Chris founded the literary press, Unfinished Monument, in 1978. He founded The Main Street Library Poetry Readings the following year. Chris was also a founding member of The Canadian Poetry Association, with James Deahl, Shaunt Basmajian and Wayne Ray and a founding member of Haiku Canada, with Eric Amann, George Swede, Margaret Saunders and others.

In 1987 Chris was the first recipient of the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award for his book Foot Through the Ceiling (Aya/Mercury Press).

Chris moved to the Kawartha Lakes area of Ontario in 1989. He worked as the head librarian/CEO in the village of Stirling for twelve years, from 1994 to 2006.

After his retirement from library work, Chris founded the Purdy Country Literary Festivals (PurdyFests) in Marmora. He coordinated the festivals for eight years, until 2014. PurdyFests will continue to be held in a new location, likely Cobourg, beginning in 2015.

Chris bought a small piece of land in 2005 which had been the site of the pioneer Malone mill on the upper Moira River. Chris renamed the riverfront retreat ZenRiver Gardens, and many of the annual PurdyFest activities were held there. ZenRiver Gardens was included in an article on Buddhist retreats in the area magazine "Country Roads". Much of Chris's poetry is composed while sitting on the deck of his shaman shack there.

Chris continues to have his poetry widely published, and he continues to support and mentor other poets with his blog, Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens. Chris has been the poetry editor for Quinte Arts Council's tabloid, "Umbrella", for about a decade.

COLLECTIONS


Cricket Formations (haiku), C & C Printing Richmond, England, 1969
Guest in a Garden (haiku), C & C Printing, Richmond, England, 1969
Dominion Day in Jail, Unfinished Monument Press, 1978
College Streetcar Runs All Night, Unfinished Monument Press, 1979
White Rasta, Unfinished Monument Press, 1980
Sleeping in Ruins (haiku), Unfinished Monument Press, 1981
Unacknowledged Legislator, blewointmentpress, 1981
White Rasta in Wintertime, Unfinished Monument Press, 1982
Island Women, HMS Press, 1983
The Unfinished Anthology (Editor), Unfinished Monument Press, 1984
5 Minutes Ago They Dropped the Bomb, Unfinished Monument Press, 1984
Foot Through the Ceiling, Aya/Mercury Press, 1986
Mr. Library Man, Haiku Canada Broadsheet, 1988
13 Bohemian Dreams, Unfinished Monument Press, 1988
Moon City (haiku), Greensleeve Publishing, 1989
Eel Pie Dharma: a memoir/haibun, Unfinished Monument Press, 1990
ZenRiver Poems & Haibun, Hidden Book Press, 2008
Eel Pie Island Dharma, (reprint), Hidden Brook Press, 2012

ANTHOLOGY AND TEXTBOOK APPEARANCES


Poems for Sale in the Street, Steel Rail Publishing, 1979
The Canadian Haiku Anthology, Three Trees Press, 1979
The Modern English Haiku, Columbine Editions, 1981
The Erotic Haiku Anthology, Black Moss Press, 1983
The Toronto Collection, Manoeuvres Press, 1984
The Unfinished Anthology, Unfinished Monument Press, 1984
Other Channels, Basmajian, Jones, 1984
Anti-War Poems, Vesta Press, 1984
The Haiku Handbook, McGraw-Hill (U.S.), 1985
The Crafted Poem, Wordwrights Canada, 1985
Haiku: Canadian Anthology/Anthologie Candienne, Editions Asticou, 1985
Tidepool 2, Hamilton Haiku Workshop Press, 1985
The Last Blewointment Anthology, Knightwood Editions, 1985
Milkweed, Nietzsche's Brolly, 1987
Instant Anthology '87, Meet the Presses, 1987
Haiku Canada 10th Anniversary Holograph Anthology, 1987
The Northern Red Oak (Poems for Milton Acorn), Unfinished Monument Press, 1987
Special Delivery, Haiku Canada, 1988
International Haiku Contest 1987 (prize), The Modern Haiku Association of Tokyo, 1988
Voices, Haiku Canada, 1989
Synesthesia in Haiku, University of the Philippines Press, 1989
Keeper of the Conscience, Greensleeve Publishing, 1990
Wind in the Long Grass, Simon & Schuster, 1991
Haiku Canada 15th Anniversary Holograph Anthology, 1992
A Haiku Alphabet in Celebration of Spring, Proof Press, 1994
Let The Earth Take Note, Milton Acorn Festival Publishing, 1994
A Magical Clockwork, Wordwrights Canada, 2000
Rogue Stimulus: The Stephen Harper Holiday Anthology for a Prorogued Parliament, Mansfield Press, 2006
Feast of Equinox, 2007
Crossing Lines, Seraphim Editions, 2008
And Left A Place To Stand On - Poems and Essays on Al Purdy, Hidden Book Press, 2009
Building Sanctuary: The Movement to Support Vietnam War Resisters in Canada, 1965-73, UBC Press, 2013
Jack Layton: Art in Action, Quattro Books, 2013
Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems for and about Raymond Souster, Quattro Press, 2014
Window Fishing: The night we caught Beatlemania, Hidden Brook Press, 2014

ONLINE ANTHOLOGIES


The Pedestal Political Anthology, 2004

MAGAZINE APPEARANCES


Alchemist, Alive, Americas Review, Anthos, Arts Scarborough Newsletter, Atkinson College Balloon, Bite, Blueprint, Canadian Author & Bookman, Canadian Book Review Annual, Canadian Dimension, Cicada, Daybreak, Driftwood East, express magazine, 519 News, Grain, Gut, Haiku, Haiku Highlights, Haiku West, The Heart, Inkstone, Janus SCTH, Leslieville Community News, Lucky Jim's, Mainichi Times, Modern Haiku, Musicworks, Mamashee, Nimbus Two, Nutmegger, Oblique Times, Origins, Our Times, Partisan, Pierian Spring, Piranha, Poetic License, Poetry Canada Review, Poetry Toronto, Prairie Star, Proof Rock, Rampike, Raw NervZ, The Red Menace, Rubicon, The Shit, Southwind, TPL News, This Magazine, Umbrella, Waitaka Press Broadsheet, Ward 9 News, Ward 7 News, Watchwords, Waves, Wee Giant, Whitewall Review, Wind Chimes, Writers' Quarterly

ONLINE MAGAZINES


Simply Haiku (May-June 2004)
Poetry Lives - Contemporary Haibun Online (June 2006)

OTHER


Over 40 public readings and radio and television broadcasts
"A Defence of Poetry" (essay) in Tough Times - Black Moss Press (2010)
Five Questions with Chris Faiers: PurdyFest 2011 - interview for Open Book, Ontario (July 2011)
Chris Faiers - Poet - Marmora History Foundation (2014)

SELECTED REVIEWS & KIND WORDS


"I like his poetry." - Beatle George Harrison, Esher, England 1969

"Your poems have verve, wit, range and rage. Bravo, and an entire laurel tree of praise for them. They have lifted me out of the fits of depression that sometimes grip me when reading the lifeless drivel that passes for poetry these days. God bless you and keep you always warm and creative." - Irving Layton

"A book by Chris Faiers is always a joy to behold, not only for its spontaneous unpretentiousness and ribald good humour, it's as though he has discovered that God in his/her/its infinite wisdom has decreed that humanity is the scapegoat of the cosmos, and Faiers laughing at our foibles is the only sensible way out." - Herb Barrett in Origins Magazine on Sleeping in Ruins

"Faiers' poetry illuminates the human condition with a quiet strength. He is a strong imagist and equally strong lyrical poet, 'giving the common man a common candidate'. A social critic and gentle satirist of his own alter-ego, the poet persona, Chris wanders through a downtown urban world of kitchens, union meetings and racetracks, recording what touches him in anger or compassion." - Judges Comments, The Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award, Cross-Canada Writers' Quarterly



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revised 12 January 2015
URL http://www.eelpie.org/cricket/faiers_biog.htm