Literature and Black Writers

Many African-Canadians have excelled in literature and poetry. Using their own experiences or the issues and events that they have found compelling, Black writers provide a balance to the usual fiction and non-fiction books. Many Black writers have left the land of their birth and come to Canada to live, using the distance, the recollections, their perceptions to fuel their creative memories and inform their writing.

Multi award winning, Barbados born, Austin Clarke has used his recollections and experiences to craft compelling stories about the experiences of African-Caribbeans. For his novel, The Polished Hoe, Clarke was awarded the 2002 Giller Prize, the largest fiction prize in Canada, and the 2003 Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Born in Trinidad, Dionne Brand has looked at the experience of Black women through a Black feminist lens. As a poet, novelist, and filmmaker, Brand’s work has received many nominations, including her book of poetry, A Land to Light On, which was awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Trillium Award in 1997.

Nova-Scotia born, George Elliott Clarke is talented in numerous areas, including playwriting, and one of his books of poetry, Execution Poems, was awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award in 2001. Clarke was given the $150,000 Trudeau Foundation Fellow Prize for his contribution to the important discussions around multiculturalism that his writing produces.

The number of writers continues to grow with Cecil Foster, Lawrence Hill, and others, as well as academic writers and journalists who contribute to our knowledge. Which books by other African-Canadian poets, novelists, children’s writers have you read?

African-Canadian author wins Commonwealth prize
News article about African-Canadian novelist Lawrence Hill winning a Commonwealth writers' prize for his novel "The Book of Negroes."

Suddenly, black literature is hot
A news article about the rising popularity of African Canadian writers. With recommended titles. From the Toronto Star website.

Why We Write
A review of "Why We Write: Conversations with African Canadian Poets and Novelists." From the quarterly publication "Canadian Literature."

Me and the City That’s Never Happened Before
About the Black experience in inner city Toronto. From the Canadian Poetry Press.

Bryan Prince
A brief bio of Bryan Prince from McClelland & Stewart. Also, read online excerpts from his book "A Shadow on the Household."

Black History Month
This site is devoted to the annual celebration of Canada’s Black History Month. See profiles of notable Black Canadians and videos that highlight many of the Black community's outstanding contributions to our shared history and heritage. From Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Ethnic Literature
An article about the cultural diversity reflected in Canadian literature. From The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Foreign Writers on Canada in French
About foreign-born, French-speaking writers in Canada. From The Canadian Encyclopedia.

The Black Prairies: History, Subjectivity, Writing
A thesis about the history of Black writing in the Canadian prairies. From the University of Victoria website.

What's a Black Critic to Do?
Brief synopsis of a book about prominent Black writers. From Insomniac Press

Somewhere man
Article about Canadian author Andre Alexis. From Quill & Quire.

Lillian Allen
An article about poet Lillian Allen. From the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Carrie M. Best
About Nova Scotian writer Carrie Best. From the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library.

Ayanna Black
A brief bio of Canadian poet Ayanna Black. From the League of Canadian Poets.

Austin Clarke
Biography of Canadian writer Austin Clarke. An Athabasca University website.

Austin Clarke
This article about award-winning writer Austin Clarke is from The Canadian Encyclopedia.

After the Giller
Acclaimed author Austin Clarke reflects on his writing career in Canada. From Quill & Quire.

George Elliott Clarke
Brief bio of acclaimed Canadian poet George Elliott Clarke. From the League of Canadian Poets.

Cecil Foster
Brief bio of Canadian author and journalist Cecil Foster. From Writers In Electronic Residence.

Claire Harris
A bibliography and brief bio of poet Claire Harris. From the Canadian Women Poets website.

Lawrence Hill
A brief profile of Canadian writer Lawrence Hill. From Writers In Electronic Residence.

Black Berry, Sweet Juice
Synopsis of a novel by Canadian writer Lawrence Hill. From Harper Collins Canada.

Black Then: Blacks In Montreal 1780s-1880s
Frank Mackey’s book about the history of Montréal’s Black community. From the Montréal Review of Books

David Nandi Odhiambo
Canadian author David Nandi Odhiambo explains how his life experiences influence his writing. From Writers for Change.

Marlene Nourbese Philip
A bibliography and brief bio of poet Marlene Nourbese Philip. From the Canadian Women Poets website.

Marlene Nourbese Philip
An article about the multitalented writer Marlene Nourbese Philip. From The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Rosemary Sadlier
A brief profile of acclaimed Canadian author Rosemary Sadlier. From Dalhousie University.

Maxine Tynes
Brief profile and bibliography of Canadian poet Maxine Tynes. From Canadian Women Poets, a Brock University website.

Save the World for Me
A review of Maxine Tynes' Save the World for Me. A Manitoba Library Association website.

Blacks in Canada
Extensive annotated list of Black Canadian writing and multimedia. From the Winnipeg Public Library.

The Orphan Boy
A review of award winning children's book The Orphan Boy, a Maasai tale about the origins of the morning and evening-star. From the Manitoba Library Association

The Second Life of Samuel Tyne
About the novel The Second Life of Samuel Tyne. Includes an interview with author Esi Edugyan and a chapter excerpt. From Random House of Canada.