Gary Geddes is a facinating man. He would be a fitting literary figure to speak at a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event.
Gary Geddes is descended from Scottish ancestors from the Northern tip of Scotland. He wrote me: “Just Scots fisherfolk from the north coast who fished in Orkney waters
for herring, until they were all fished out. Then they came over here
and did the same nasty thing to the salmon. The family name comes from
the ged, a North Atlantic sea pike. The people of the geds, totem
animal and all that. Nasty little bite they have, too.”
He also has a fascination with things Asian. Nevermind the 1421 voyage of Chinese admiral Zheng He Gary Geddes has written The Kingdom of Ten Thousand Things (HarperCollins, 2005), an entertaining and philosophical travelogue of about the Chinese or Afghan monk named Huishen, who might have reached the west
coast of North America about 1,000 years before Columbus. Geddes traveled to the Himalayas, the Taklamakan Desert and Central
America (where Huishen is most likely to have landed, according Chinese
Gary also has written poetry collections titled The Terracotta Army (1985), and
I Didn't Notice the Mountain Growing Dark (Cormorant, 1986)- translations of Li Pai and Tu Fu, with the assistance of George Liang.
Probably the first time I came across his work was his anthology 15 Canadian Poets. I either shelved it at the Vancouver Public Library or studied it taking poetry or Canadian literature classes at Capilano College. But it was a few years ago that our paths actually converged. Gary was writer-in-residence for the Vancouver Public Library, where I was working at the information desk. Somehow we connected, and we soon were setting appointments to attend events and have a meeting.
Gary shared with me his role in creating Canada's first anthology of Asian-Canadian literature, Many Mouthed Birds. He had a connection with grants and publishers and shared the connection with Jim Wong-Chu, co-editor of the anthology.
Through his many anthologies, his own writings, and his roles as teacher, mentor and community activist, Gary Geddes has created his own indelible mark on both BC and Canadian literary landscape. He has taught at Concordia Univiersity and the Creative Writing School of UBC, as well as being a Distinguised Professor of Candian Culture at Western Washington University in Bellingham Washington. Last year he received an honourary Doctorate of Laws from Royal Roads University in BC.
Here is the Press Release from BC Book Prizes
RELEASE – April
Gary Geddes named recipient of the fifth annual
Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary
Vancouver, BC – The West Coast Book Prize Society is proud to
recognize Gary Geddes as the
recipient of the fifth annual Lieutenant
Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. British
Columbia ’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable
Steve n Point, will present the award at the
Lieutenant Governor’s BC Book Prizes Gala to be held at the Fairmont
Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver
on April 26, 2008. The event will be hosted by
broadcaster Fanny Kiefer.
“From 15 Canadian
Poets to Skookum Wawa
to 20th Century Poetry and Poetics,
Gary Geddes has raised the literary profile of both our province and nation,
and has long been considered one of
Canada ’s most important men
of letters. He has given decades of his life to teaching Canadian literature
and the craft of writing as well as working as a university professor,
writer-in-residence, critic, anthologist, translator, editor, and most
importantly, writer. Gary Geddes’ writings have crossed countries and
continents in performance and translation. He has received numerous awards,
including the E. J. Pratt Medal, a
Canadian Authors Association prize, two Archibald Lampman awards, and the
Gabriela Mistral Prize for service to literature and the people of
His work as a poet has been generous in its outward-looking gaze. His poems
bring song and light into darkened corners of the human experience, document
silent and hidden lives, and enter politics through the individual and the
personal. His newest book of poems, Falsework,
explores the 1958 collapse of Vancouver ’s
Bridge . His meditative
memoir Sailing Home: A Journey Through Time,
Place and Memory (2001) chronicles his return to the West Coast with
a deep sense of awe and gratitude for the beauty, wildness, and history of this
place. In whatever genre he pursues, Gary Geddes writes with eloquence and
intense awareness of mystery within the commonplace, and the single human voice
singing inside the crowd. He tells the truth, in all its rawness and splendour.
For the integrity of his creative work, for his active and
generous promotion of other writers, and for the words he has given to help map
the literary geography of British
Columbia , we proudly celebrate Gary Geddes.”
Jury member Carla Funk
for this year’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award: Carla
Funk , poet laureate for the city of Victoria;
Margaret Reynolds ,
executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of BC; and Mel Bolen,
owner of Bolen Books, Victoria.
prize was established in 2003 by former Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable
Iona Campagnolo, to recognize British
Columbia writers who have contributed to the
development of literary excellence in the province. The recipient receives a
cash award of $5,000 and a commemorative certificate.
All BC Book Prizes info at www.bcbookprizes.ca
Karen Green ,
Rebus Creative: 604.687.2405, ext. 21, firstname.lastname@example.org