“Prairie poetry,” as it came to be known in the 20th century, has found no more eloquent and accomplished a practitioner than Robert Kroetsch. Yet the North American prairie his work has made so recognizably visible in all of its characteristic particularities is changing profoundly in the 21st century. This change is marked by the transition of a cultural identity primarily rooted in place, to one that is rooted in a rapidly fragmenting, urbanizing, technology-based globalization. In an opening dialogue between the archetypal practitioner of this poetics of place, Robert Kroetsch, and a new practitioner of a poetics of the search for the often sublimated sign, Jon Paul Fiorentino, the reader bears witness to a rare literary event—a master passing on his legacy to the students who have become his peers—the transition from the unifying classic articulation of place to the diaspora of the vernaculars it has engendered.
About the authors
Jon Paul Fiorentino
Jon Paul Fiorentino’s first novel is Stripmalling (ECW, 2009). His most recent book of poetry is The Theory of the Loser Class (Coach House Books, 2006). He is the author of the poetry book Hello Serotonin (Coach House Books, 2004) and the humour book Asthmatica (Insomniac Press, 2005). His most recent editorial projects are the anthologies Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour (DC Books, 2003) and Post-Prairie — a collaborative effort with Robert Kroetsch, (Talonbooks, 2005).
Robert Kroetsch is a Canadian novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer. In his novel, The Words of My Roaring (1966), he began to use the tall tale rhetoric of prairie taverns. Both The Studhorse Man (1969), which won the Governor General’s Award, and Gone Indian (1973) call the conventions of realistic fiction hilariously into question.
In 2004, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Robert Kroetsch was a teacher, editor and award-winning writer. Born in Heisler, Alberta, in 1927, Kroetsch grew up on his parents' farm and studied at the University of Alberta and the University of Iowa. He taught at the State University of New York, Binghamton, until the late 1970s and then returned to Canada, where he taught at the University of Calgary and the University of Manitoba from the 1970s through the 1990s. Kroetsch also spent time at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts and many writer-in-residencies, where he powerfully influenced recent writing on the Canadian prairies and elsewhere. His generosity of spirit and openness to the new showed many authors new ways to pursue their own kinds of writing. In honour of both his writing and his contributions to Canadian culture in general, Kroetsch was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2004. In 2011 he received the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award. Robert Kroetsch died in a car accident outside of Edmonton, Alberta, in 2011.