About the Author

Wayne Clifford

Wayne Clifford was born in Toronto in 1944. He studied English at University College at the University of Toronto in the mid sixties during which time he came to be associated with a small coterie of students that included Stan Bevington, Dennis Reid, Doris and Judith Cowan, and David Bolduc. Wayne also remembers Tangiers Al, but not clearly, which says something about the time. While still an undergraduate Clifford won numerous Norma Epstein prizes for his poetry and also one E. J. Pratt Award (1967) that he shared with Michael Ondaatje. (One poet kept the money, the other, the medal. In the end each felt equally cheated.)

Stan Bevington had started his fledgling Coach House Press in 1964 and asked Clifford to acquire a few poetry manuscripts suitable for book production of an experimental sort. Wayne secured early work from George Bowering, Victor Coleman, bpNichol and Michael Ondaatje. At the founding meeting of the League of Canadian Poets (1966) Wayne proposed a Writers` Anonymous akin to other, similar, twelve-step programmes. Clifford's idea was not seriously considered. Shortly thereafter, Clifford left Toronto to pursue graduate studies in creative writing at the University of Iowa. Clifford began working at St. Lawrence College in Kingston in 1969, when the College was just new, and was involved in the Creative Writing program and the Fine Arts Program, until both were discontinued in the 1980s. Clifford then joined the General Arts & Science Program (GAS -- and yes, he does enjoy this irony of this acronym) and began teaching remediation in language. He retired in June of 2004. He was working on a poetry collaboration (unpublished) with bpNichol at the time of bp's death in 1988.

Books by this Author
The Book of Were

The Anatolian

He started Gandalf, ended Gandhi,
and venerable when he went.
He talked with me by what sound handy
got across just what he meant.

He'd been my eldest daughter's pet,
outgrown before his so long stay
embarrass grade nine. As the debt
for having brought him first away

from pet store with his litter, wheel
and water bottle, pellet feed,
(for all my troubles, quite a deal)
I was who bought replacement stuff

and meeped back welcome getting home,
until, blind, bald, he'd had enough,
and left for plateaus hamsters roam
who have been good and true and kept.

And what he left, eared purse of skin,
which insignificance I wept
to lose such listener within.

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The Exile's Papers

The Exile's Papers

The Duplicity of Autobiography
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The Exile's Papers: Part 4

The Exile's Papers: Part 4

Just Beneath Your Skin, the Dark Begins
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Lexical Conundra

We've established by proving, further and further back,
a past insulting our obvious gifts, our speech,
our social graces, intellects creating participles
that can sustain true notyetness. At points,
some among us mutter, "The fools've got language
all mixed up with meaning. Meanest wins!"
but curiosity reaches even into lies,
where ape, with paw caught in the jar's surprise
grasp, learns it's hard, inventing stories
when we know so much, that in frustration we dig
up graves and pick our dead out of accreting


"See? See?" we taunt our doubter. "Own
what's Yours. Who'd You think You were fooling? Angels?
We're sometimes right!"



You fade into the next question.

The Grove

The spruce here pillar up to close their height
against the sky. In their arcade I am,
the berry edge of open.


The flim-flam

duel through dapple of two butterflies, flight
that spirals up beyond, before they scram
on wind the speed of breath,


is mostly hoax,

a way that butterflies come up with jokes
they brag as though someone might give a damn.

Much like these lines that go where rhyme provokes.
The city. Country. Somewhere one has worth.
The only rhyme that makes some sense is death.
The only one that might convince the folks.

If fluttering the tensions makes a fight,
spruce-shade goddess, what's the good I write?

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A Collaboration
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