• Biography

    George Elliott Clarke, inaugural E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, was born near the Black Loyalist community of Windsor Plains, Nova Scotia, and raised in Halifax. The son of William and Geraldine Clarke, Clarke holds an Honours B.A. in English from the University of Waterloo, an M.A. in English from Dalhousie University and a Ph.D. in English from Queen's University. He practices poetry, politics and journalism.

    George's poetry is written in a lyrical style, frequently alluding to religious, Black Loyalist heritage. While he has studied the Black literature of many countries, he gives special attention to Nova Scotia. The editor of a two-volume anthology of local Africadian writing, Fire on the Water (Pottersfield Press, 1991), George has written lyrics for the folk-gospel quartet Four the Moment. His poetic Whylah Falls was part of the 1996 CBC Radio Drama series and an acclaimed stage play in 1997 and 2000. It was also staged, in Italian, in Venice, Italy in 2002.

    In 1998, he was the first recipient of the prestigious Portia White Prize, an annual award from the Nova Scotia Arts Council. Named after one of Nova Scotia's pre-eminent musical pioneers, the Prize recognizes cultural and artistic excellence. In commenting on the prize winner, the Honourable Russell MacLellan, Premier of Nova Scotia, said, "Dr. Clarke was selected because he represents one of our best. As such, he is honoured with the most prestigious award that can be presented in Nova Scotia to a Nova Scotian artist."

    In 2001, Clarke won the Governor General's Award for Poetry for his collection Execution Poems , published by the Gaspereau Press. The Canada Council for the Arts poetry jury commented the "Execution Poems is raging, gristly, public - and unflinchingly beautiful. Clarke plays with rhyme, theatre and the shape of the book showing us justice as official speech perpetrates it and as ordinary speech registers it. He harnesses the pain in the history of racism and pours it into explosive, original language."

    His books have been translated into Chinese, Romanian, and Braille.


    • Blues and Bliss: The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke. ed. Jon Paul Fiorentino. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier UP, 2008. ISBN 978-1-55458-060-6.

    • I & I. Goose Lane Editions, 2008. ISBN 9780864925138.

    • Trudeau: Long March, Shining Path. Gaspereau Press, 2007. ISBN 9781554470372.

    • Black. Polestar/Raincoast Books, 2006. ISBN 1-55192-903-3. $18.95.

    • George & Rue.. Harper Collins Canada, 2005. ISBN 0-00-648569-3.

    • Québecité. Gaspereau Press, 2003. ISBN 1-89403-174-1.

    • Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature. University of Toronto Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8020-81910-6.

    • Blue. Polestar/Raincoast Books, 2001. $19.95. ISBN 1-55192-414-5.

    • Execution Poems. Gaspereau Press, 2000. Limited edition.

    • Beatrice Chancy. Polestar Book Publishers, 1999. ISBN 1-896095-94-1.

    • Lush Dreams, Blue Exile: Fugitive Poems. Pottersfield Press, 1994.

    • Fire on the Water: An Anthology of Black Nova Scotia Writing - Vol.2. Ed. George Elliott Clarke. Pottersfield Press, 1992.

    • Whylah Falls. Vancouver, Polestar Press, 1990. ISBN 0-919591-57-4.

    • Saltwater Spirituals and Deeper Blues. Porters Lake, Pottersfield Press, 1983. ISBN 0-919001-13-2.

    • "Africville" and "Old Pictures," lyrics, music by Delvina Bernard, recorded by Four the Moment for In My Soul, 1995.

    • "Lydia Jackson" and "West Hants County", lyrics, music by Delvina Bernard, recorded by Four the Moment for We're Still Standing, 1988.

    • One Heart Broken into Song. Feature film screenplay, directed by Clement Virgo (CBC-TV, 1999).

    • Winner of Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, 2006; 'George & Rue'

    • Longlisted for Dublin IMPAC Award; 'George & Rue'

    • Shortlisted for Commonwealth Best First Novel Award, Canada & Caribbean Region; 'George & Rue'

    • Shortlisted for the 2002 Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction; 'Blue'

    • Shortlisted for the 2002 Pearson Canada Reader's Choice Award; 'Blue'

    • Winner of the 2001 Governor General's Award for Poetry; 'Execution Poems'

    • Shortlisted for the 2000 Atlantic Poetry Prize; 'Beatrice Chancy'

    • Shortlisted for the 2000 Dartmouth Book & Writing Award for Fiction; 'Beatrice Chancy'

    • Winner of the Archibald Lampman Award in 1991; 'Wylah Falls'

    • Runner-up for the CBC Canada Reads Contest in 2002; 'Wylah Falls'

    • Erif Hoffer Award for Poetry, Hopewell Publications, awarded to Blues and Bliss: The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke, 2009.

    • Appointment to the Order of Canada, 2008.

    • Appointment to the Order of Nova Scotia, 2006

    • Frontieras Poesis Premuil , Poesis Magazine, International Poetry Festival, Satu Mare, Romania, 2005.

    • Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Prize, Trudeau Foundation, 2005.

    • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievement Award, Black Theatre Workshop, 2004.

    • National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, 2002.

    • Alumni Achievement Award, University of Waterloo, 1999.

    • Bellagio Centre Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation, NYC, 1998.

    • Portia White Prize, Nova Scotia Arts Council, 1998.

    • Second Prize in the 1983 Bliss Carman Poetry Award, Banff Centre.

    • First Prize 1981 Atlantic Writing Competition (Adult Poetry), Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia.

    • Honourable Mention for the 1979 Atlantic Writing Competition (Adult Poetry), Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia.