Formerly a professor at Université du Québec-Trois-Rivières’ department of Leisure, Tourism, and Culture, Gaston Bellemare co-founded Écrits des Forges, publishers of international poetry, in 1970. He was chairman there between 1983 and 2008. In 1985, Mr. Bellemare founded the Festival International de la Poésie in Trois-Rivières, of which he is chairman. He is also the founder of the Fédération des festivals internationaux de la poésie. Gaston Bellemare has been chairman and director of a number of publishing houses, including Groupe de création Estuaire (1976-2003), Éditions Arcade (1991-2003), Éditions Gaz Moutarde (1992-2003), which publishes Estuaire’s poetry collections, Arcade, Exit, and Lèvres urbaines.
Honorary member and elected chairman of l’Association Nationale des Éditeurs de livres (2004-2008) and (2010- ), Bellemare is also Deputy Chairman of COPIBEC (2011-2012), secretary to the Fondation des Parlementaires (2010- ) and a member of The Public Rights Lending Commission board of directors (2009- ).
Doctor honoris causa at Université du Québec in Trois-Rivières (2010), Gaston Bellemare was also awarded the Prix du Québec Georges-Émile Lapalme in 2007 in recognition of his “exceptional contribution to the quality and outreach of written and spoken French in Quebec”. In 2004, he became an honorary member of The League of Canadian Poets.
Dionne Brand’s previous collections of poetry include Ossuaries, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize; Land to Light On, winner of the Governor General’s Award and the Trillium Book Award; thirsty, winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and a finalist for the Trillium Book Award, the Toronto Book Award, and the Griffin Poetry Prize; and Inventory, a finalist for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Governor General’s Award. In 2006, Brand was awarded the prestigious Harbourfront Festival Prize, and in 2009, she was named Toronto’s Poet Laureate.
Born in Montreal, Nicole Brossard has published more than 30 books since 1965, including Mauve Desert, Notebook of Roses and Civilization (which was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize), and The Aerial Letter. Brossard has twice been awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, first in 1974 and again ten years later. In 1965, she co-founded the literary periodical La barre du jour and, in 1976, the feminist journal Les têtes de pioche. That same year, she co-directed the movie Some American Feminists. In 1991, Brossard collaborated with Lisette Girouard on an anthology of women’s poetry from Quebec entitled Des origines à nos jours. That same year, she was awarded the Prix Athanase-David, Quebec’s highest literary distinction. In 2006, she received the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize. Her books have been translated into a number of languages and three separate anthologies of her work have appeared in the last five years. A translation into English of her most recent collection of poetry, Piano blanc, will be published in 2013.
Dennis Lee is the author of more than twenty books for adults and children, including Civil Elegies, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and the classic children’s book Alligator Pie. One of the founders of House of Anansi Press, over 40 years ago, Dennis Lee was named Toronto’s first poet laureate in 2003.
Pierre Nepveu, born in Montreal in 1946, taught literature at Université de Montréal for thirty years. Poet, novelist and essay writer, Professor Nepveu has published well over a dozen books including several collections of poetry, two of which earned Governor General’s Literary Awards. He is also the author, along with Laurent Mailhot, of La poésie québécoise, des origines à nos jours, a much-loved Quebec poetry anthology, which was reprinted in 2007. Since 2000, Pierre Nepveu has been involved in collecting the scattered works of poet Gaston Miron. Three volumes of those works have now been published. He also recently published a celebrated biography of Gaston Miron, titled La vie d’un homme.
Karen Solie was born in Moose Jaw and grew up in southwest Saskatchewan. Her first collection of poems, Short Haul Engine, won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize. Her second, Modern and Normal, was shortlisted for a Trillium Award for Poetry. Her third, Pigeon, won the Pat Lowther Award, the Trillium, and the Griffin Poetry Prize. She has been on faculty at the Banff Centre for the Arts and the Sage Hill Writing Experience, served as writer-in-residence for the University of Alberta and University of New Brunswick, and taught creative writing for the University of British Columbia and York University. She lives in Toronto.
Albert is the Founding Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre Company and General Director of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. He trained at York University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before joining the Stratford Festival Young Company under Robin Phillips. In 1992, Albert spent three years on CBC’s hit television series Street Legal, followed by two seasons as the lead in the series Side Effects. Most recently, he was the lead in CTV’s made-for-TV film Shades of Black (a biography of Conrad Black), which aired in December 2006. Albert regularly directs and appears on stage with Soulpepper. Currently he is appearing as “El Gallo” in the 2011 production of The Fantasticks. He also leads the Soulpepper Academy. Albert’s many honours include the City of Toronto Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award, the Joan Chalmers National Award for Artistic Direction, and, for his work on behalf of UNICEF, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal. Albert has received honorary degrees from Queen’s and Bishop’s Universities in recognition of his contributions to Canadian theatre.
Gaston Bellemare, by Andrew Montiel
Dionne Brand, by Jason Chow
Nicole Brossard, by Germaine Beaulieu
Karen Solie, by Barbara Stoneham
Pierre Nepveu, by Kai McCall