Professor wins French poetry prize

Creative writing Professor Patricia Keeney has just won the Prix Jean Paris for the best new volume of poetry in translation (Michele Duclos, translator) for her collection, Nager seule (Swimming Alone). The prize is given annually by the Société des Amis de la Poésie in Bergerac, France.

Right: Patricia Keeney in 1996

Keeney read from the duolingual volume in both French and English this past year in Bergerac and Bordeaux in France and in English only in Budapest, Pecs, Szeged and Debrecen in Hungary. Her European readings were supported by the Cultural Affairs Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

A widely published poet and literary and theatre critic in Canada and abroad, Keeney is the author of six books of poetry and the novel The Incredible Shrinking Wife. She has taught humanities and creative writing at York University since 1983.  

A major essay on Keeney’s work has also just appeared in a critical volume in Chinese about Canadian writers who have been translated into that language. Written by literary scholar Shen Hui Hui, the essay examines Keeney’s poetry, comparing Chinese and Canadian symbols and archetypes. Keeney is published in China under the name Bai Dee. Her volume Selected Poems of Patricia Keeney (1996) is translated in Chinese as Engenderings and was published three years ago by the University of Shaanxi Press in Xian.

Second novel is a ‘bio-mythography’

Keeney is currently completing her second novel – “a bio-mythography” as she calls it – built around the real life of a Ugandan/Canadian actor who escaped death at the hands of Idi Amin. The novel is tentatively entitled Charles’ Story.

In addition to French and Chinese, her poetry has also been translated and published in Spanish and Hindi. One of three Canadian writers sent to Mexico in 1995 under a NAFTA cultural exchange program, Keeney recently completed a series of conversations and poems on national and personal culture, entitled You Bring Me Wings with Mexican poet Ethel Krauze. In December 2001, she undertook the launch and tour of Hindi Selected (Vagdevi Press) in Bombay and Jaipur. Her latest volume of poetry, Global Warnings, was published by Oberon in the autumn of 1999.

Submitted by Brigitte Kleer, public relations and special projects manager, Faculty of Fine Arts