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Lisa Robertson was born on July 22, 1961 in Toronto, ON. In 1979, she moved to Salt Spring Island, BC, then in 1984 relocated to Vancouver, BC to attend Simon Fraser University (SFU). From 1988 to 1994 she was the proprietor of Proprioception Books, a specialist bookshop. In 1990 she became involved with the Kootenay School of Writing (KSW), an artist-run collective that works to advance avant-garde writing practices.
Robertson is the author of various books of poetry, including XEclogue (1993), Debbie: An Epic (1997), The Weather (2001), The Men: A Lyric Book (2006), Magenta Soul Whip (2009), R’s Boat (2010), Cinema of the Present (2014) 3 Summers (2016), and Boat (2022) and has contributed to various anthologies. Her collection of essays and texts on architecture and urban space, Occasional Works and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture was published in 2003 (2nd ed., 2011). Her first novel, The Baudelaire Fractal, was published in 2020. She has also written many chapbooks, essays, and reviews on poetry, contemporary art, and architecture, as well as columns for various magazines and journals (among them, Mix Magazine and the interior design magazine Nest). She edited the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology, and worked as a co-editor for the poetry journal Raddle Moon, from 1993-1999. She has occasionally done freelance editorial work on poetry manuscripts for New Star Books (Vancouver) Book*hug (Toronto), Anansi (Toronto) and Coach House Books (Toronto) and has written magazine columns for Artforum and the Paris Review.
Robertson has received wide recognition for her work. She was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1998 for Debbie: An Epic, won the Relit Award for Poetry in 2002 for The Weather, in 2006 received the bpNichol Chapbook Award for Rousseau’s Boat, and in 2018 was awarded the inaugural CD Wright Award in Poetry by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2017 and her novel The Baudelaire Fractal was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 2020.
In 1999, Robertson was granted the Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellowship in Poetry by Cambridge University (UK). She was a visiting poet and lecturer at the University of California (San Diego) in 2003, and in 2006, she served as the Roberta C. Holloway lecturer in the Practice of Poetry at the University of California (Berkeley). From 2007-2009, she was a visiting artist-in-residence at the California College of the Arts (San Francisco). She has taught at Capilano University (North Vancouver, BC), the American University of Paris (France), Dartington College of the Arts (UK), Piet Zwart Institute (Netherlands), Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa University (Boulder, CO), Princeton University (Princeton, NJ), and at the Banff Centre Writing Studio (Banff, Alberta). Robertson also serves on the advisory boards of Artspeak Gallery (Vancouver, BC) and as an advising editor for the Capilano Review.
She has lived in France since the early 2000s, and began translating from French to English. She has worked on translating the linguist and philosopher Henri Meschonnic, the poet Eric Suchere, the novelist Michele Bernstein, the linguist Emile Benveniste and the philosopher Simone Weil. Her current work is a creative study on the “wide rime” of the poetics of the troubadour poets. This work includes translation from the medieval Occitan, lectures on poetics and vocal performances.
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