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Newlove, John (1938–2003)

John Newlove, May 1984.
Roy Antal (Regina Leader-Post)

Poet John Newlove was born on June 13, 1938 in Regina. His parents were Thomas Harold, a lawyer, and Mary Constant (Monteith) Newlove, a teacher. Newlove lived with his mother in several eastern Saskatchewan communities, particularly Verigin and Kamsack, where he attended school. He later studied at the University of Saskatchewan for one year, but then left to hitchhike around the country. Newlove worked briefly at several jobs: he taught school in Birtle, Manitoba; was a social worker in Yorkton; and worked in radio in Weyburn, Regina and Swift Current. He also worked as a labourer in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Newlove spent several years in Vancouver reading about mythology and the history of exploration in Canada while learning the craft of poetry from artists and poets, among them Brian Fisher and Roy Kiyooka, also from Saskatchewan. In 1962, he published a chapbook, Grave Sirs, and featured in poetry and literary magazines. Newlove was most prolific in the 1960s and early 1970s, publishing five more books of poetry by small presses by 1967 and three books by McClelland & Stewart by 1972. His last book, Lies, won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 1972. Newlove received four Canada Council Grants between 1965 and 1981, and gave readings across the country. From 1970 to 1974 he lived in Toronto, working as a senior editor at McClelland & Stewart. He moved frequently over the next years to be writer in residence at universities in Montreal, London, and Toronto as well as at the Regina Public Library in 1979–80, and to teach in the writing program at David Thompson University in Nelson, BC, until its closure. He freelanced as an editor for Canadian Poetry: The Modern Era in 1977, and edited works by Glen Sorestad and other Canadian poets. In 1986 he became editor for the Commissioner of Official Languages. John Newlove has written some of the finest poems in Canadian literature, often incorporating Saskatchewan scenes and memories of his early life in his work. His book The Fatman: Selected Poems, 1962–1972 has been praised as one of the most impressive in contemporary English language poetry. Newlove died on December 23, 2003.

Bob Ivanochko

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Further Reading

Barbour, D. 1992. “John Newlove and His Works.” Pp. 281–336 in R. Lecker, J. David and E. Quigley (eds.), Canadian Writers and Their Works: Poetry Series, vol 10. Toronto: ECW Press.
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