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Agnes Whitfield

Agnes Whitfield

Photo: Daniel Gagnon

Agnes Whitfield grew up in Peterborough, Ontario, and has lived for many years in Montreal. She holds a doctorate in Québec literature from Laval University, and teaches Canadian literature at York University. She writes in both French and English. Predominantly known as a Canadian francophone poet, Whitfield has been considered a cultural “transfuge.” Her works in French challenge stultified thinking around important contemporary issues, such as the English-French Canadian constitutional impasse (Ô cher Émile je t'aime ou l'heureuse mort d'une Gorgone anglaise racontée par sa fille, Le Nordir, 1993; Où dansent les nénuphars, Le Nordir, 1995), the gender divide (Et si les sirènes ne chantaient plus, Écrits des Forges, 2001), and more recently the role of poetry in a world determinedly moving towards destruction (Où te tiens-tu, poète, Éditions du Sémaphore, 2021). As an academic, Whitfield has published extensively on Canadian and Québec fiction, women’s life writing, translation theory, and pedagogy. She is also a literary translator. In 1991, she was shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award in the Translation category for Divine Diva (Coach House Press), her English-language rendition of Quebec author Daniel Gagnon’s poetic novel, Venite a Cantare. Whitfield has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Bologna, Seagram Chair in Canadian Studies at McGill University and Joint Chair in Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. In 2011, she founded Vita Traductiva, an international peer-reviewed Translation Studies publication series (



Poète, où te tiens-tu?. 2021, Sémaphore
Si les sirènes ne chantaient plus. 2001, Écrits des forges
Où dansent les nénuphars. 1995, Le Nordir
Ô cher Émile je t'aime ou l'heureuse mort d'une Gorgone anglaise racontée par sa fille. 1993, Le Nordir
Divine Diva. 1991, Coach House Press


Glassco Prize, Literary Translators' Association of Canada, shortlisted for Divine Diva, 1992
Governor General's Award, French/English Translation, shortlisted for Divine Diva, 1992
Raymond-Klibansky Prize, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, shortlisted for Le Métier du double, 2007
Eligible for National Public Readings Program: