Lionel Kearns. Courtesy Talonbooks.

Lionel John Kearns (born February 6, 1937) is a Canadian poet and academic.[1]


Kearns was born in Nelson, British Columbia,[1] the son of singer Dorothy (Welch) and adventure story writer C.F. Kearns. During World War II the family lived in Fort Macleod, Alberta, where C.F. Kearns was a flight instructor.[2]

In 1955 he enrolled at the University of British Columbia, where with fellow students George Bowering, Frank Davey, Fred Wah. and others, Kearns became involved with TISH, a seminal Canadian poetry newsletter. Kearns; thesis adviser at UBC was Earle Birney.[1]

Kearns then completed an M.A. in structural linguistics at the University of London, spending a year researching the West Indian English dialect spoken on the island of Trinidad.[1]

Except for one year (1981-1982) spent as writer in residence at Concordia University,[2] he was a professor of English at Simon Fraser University for 20 years (1966-1986).[1] In 1988 he became the first instructor for Writer-in-Electronic Residence (WIER), an online, interactive creative writing program.[1]

He is a key figure among the Canadian avant-garde poets of the 1960s, a pioneer of interactive communications technology in teaching poetry, and an early proponent of digital poetry.[1]


  • Songs of Circumstance. Vancouver: Tish Press, 1963
  • Listen George. Montreal: Imago Press, 1965.
  • Pointing. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1967.
  • By the Light of the Silvery Mclune: Media parables, poems, signs, gestures, and other assaults on the interface. Vancouver: Daylight Press, 1969.
  • About Time. Prince George: Caledonia Press, 1974.
  • Practising Up to Be Human. Toronto: Coach House, 1978.
  • Ignoring the Bomb: New and selected poems. Lantzville: Oolichan Press, 1982.
  • Convergences. Toronto: Coach House, 1984.
    • revised web-based edition, 2004.
  • A Few Words Will Do. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2007

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy ABC Bookworld.[3]

Audio / videoEdit

  • The Birth of God (cine-poem, 16mm., sound, 3 1/2 min.) Film by Gordon Payne, sound by Peter Huse, poem by Lionel Kearns. 1973.
  • Negotiating a New Canadian Constitution (cine-poem, 16mm., sound, 3 1/2 min.). Film by Gordon Payne, poem by Lionel Kearns. (National Film Board of Canada, 1974).

Except where noted, a/v information courtesy the University of Toronto.[3]

See alsoEdit


  • Jim Andrews, On Lionel Kearns: A binary meditation on or contemporary reading of the work of Lionel Kearns (2004).
  • Lianne Moyes, "Dialoguing the Monologue of History and Lyric: Lionel Kearns' Convergences", Open Letter 7, 5 (Summer 1989),15-27.
  • Manina Jones, "Log Entries: Exploring discursive space in Lionel Kearns Convergences", in Douglas Barber, ed., Beyond Tish (1991)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Camille Martin, Lionel Kearns, Canadian Encyclopedia, November 15, 2013. Web, Apr. 15, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lionel Kearns: Biography, Canadian Poetry Online, University of Toronto. Web, Apr. 15, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Publications, Lionel Kearns, Canadian Poetry Online, University of Toronto,, Web, June 3, 2012.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
Original Penny's Poetry Pages article, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0.