Fred Wah

Fred Wah. Courtesy Parliament of Canada.

Frederick James Wah (born January 23, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, and academic.[1]

Life Edit

Wah was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, but grew up in the interior (West Kootenay) of British Columbia. His Canadian-born father was raised in China, the son of a Chinese father and a Scots-Irish mother[2][3]. Fred Wah's mother was a Swedish-born Canadian who came to Canada at age 6.[4] His diverse ethnic makeup figures significantly in his writings.

Wah studied literature and music at the University of British Columbia. While there, he was a founding editor and contributor to TISH. He later did graduate work at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. He has taught at Selkirk College, David Thompson University Centre, and the University of Calgary. Well known for his work on literary journals and small-press, Wah has been a contributing editor to Open Letter since its beginning, involved in the editing of West Coast Line, and with Frank Davey edited the world's first online literary magazine, SwiftCurrent. Wah won the 'Governor General's Award' for his 1985 book "Waiting for Saskatchewan".

Wah retired after 40 years of teaching and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife Pauline Butling. He remains active writing and performing public readings of his poetry. In 2006-07, he was the Writer-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Education Edit

Recognition Edit

In December 2011, Wah was named Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate.[5]




  • Lardeau. Toronto: Island Press, 1965.
  • Mountain. Buffalo, NY: Audit / East-West, 1967.
  • Among. Toronto: Coach House, 1972.
  • Tree. Vancouver: Vancouver Community Press, 1972.
  • [Kootenay place anthology (untitled)] (by Fred Wah, Roberto Campoamor, & Gayle Peppard). Castlegar, BC: Cotinneh Books, 1973.
  • Pictures and Words. Castlegar, BC: Cotinneh Books, 1973.
  • EarthCanton NY: Institute of Further Studies, 1974.
  • Pictograms from the Interior of B.C.. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1975.
  • Loki is Buried at Smoky Creek: selected Poetry. Vancouver & Los Angeles: Talonbooks, 1980. ISBN 978-0-88922-177-2
  • Owners Manual. Lantzville, BC: Island Writing Series, 1981.
  • Breathin' My Name With a Sigh. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1981. ISBN 978-0-88922-188-8
  • Stomach. Vancouver: Slug Press, 1981.
  • All the Maps. PEI: Island Magazine, 1981.
  • Grasp The Sparrow's Tail: A poetic diary. Kyoto, Japan: privately printed at Nagata Bunshodo, 1982.
  • Waiting for Saskatchewan. Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 1985.
  • Music at the Heart of Thinking. Red Deer, AB: Red Deer College Press, 1987.
  • Rooftops. Nobleboro, ME: Blackberry Books, 1987; Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1988.
  • Limestone Lakes: Utaniki. Red Deer, AB: Red Deer College Press, 1989.
  • So Far. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991.
  • Alley Alley Home Free. Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1992.
  • Snap (limited edition). Vancouver: Vancouver : R. Miki & I. Niechoda, 1992.
  • Diamond Grill. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1996.
  • When I was Eight (chapbook). Banff, AB: Banff Centre for the Arts, 1998.[6]
  • Extreme Poetry (by Fred Wah, Mari-Louise Rowley, Jeanette Lynes, Donna Kane, Hilary Clark & Joe Blades). Seaforth, NS: BS Poetry Society, 2001.
  • All Americans. Calgary, AB: Housepress, 2002.
  • Isadora Blue. Victoria, BC: La Mano Izquierda Impresora, 2005.
  • Articulations (chapbook). Vancouver: Nomados, 2007.
  • Sentenced to Light. Vancouver : Talonbooks, 2008. ISBN 978-0-88922-577-0
  • is a Door. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2009. ISBN 978-0-88922-620-3
  • "The False Laws of Narrative: The poetry of Fred Wah" (selected & with introduction by Louis Cabri). Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-55458-046-0
  • Manuals of Belief. Toronto: BookThug, 2012.
  • Scree: The collected earlier poems, 1962-1990. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2015.


  • Faking It: Poetics and hybridity: Critical writing, 1984-1999. Edmonton, AB: NeWest, 2000.
  • Permissions : TISH poetics, 1963 thereafter--. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2014.


  • Daphne Marlatt, Net Work: Selected writing. Vancouver & Los Angeles: Talonbooks, 1980.
  • The Swift Current Anthology (edited with Frank Davey). Toronto: Coach House Press, 1986.
  • Beyond the orchard : essays on 'The martyrology' (edited with Roy Miki). Vancouver : West Coast Line, 1997.
Fred Wah04:53

Fred Wah

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat. [7]

See alsoEdit

Preceded by
Pierre DesRuisseaux
Parliamentary Poet Laureate
2011 - 2013
Succeeded by
Michel Plau


  1. Fred Wah (1939- ), ABC Bookworld, B.C. Bookworld, Web, June 12, 2012
  2. Jilang Su, Billy K. L. So, Gungwu Wang, John Fitzgerald, Jianli Huang, James K. Chin, Contributors Billy K. L. So, John Fitzgerald. Power and Identity in the Chinese World Order. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 323. ISBN 9622095909. 
  4. Pauline Butling, Susan Rudy. Poets Talk. University of Alberta. pp. 143. ISBN 0888644310. 
  5. Susan Rudy, introduction, The Fred Wah Digital Archive, Artmob, Web, June 12, 2012.
  6. Fred Wah: Publications, Canadian Poetry Online, University of Toronto Libraries,, Web, June 12, 2012.
  7. Search results = au:Fred Wah, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Apr. 7, 2015.

External links Edit

  • Fred Wah, Asian Heritage in Canada, Ryerson University Library and Archives.
Audio / video
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