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Stuart Ross

Stuart Ross

Photo: Stephen Brockwell

STUART ROSS is the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Harbourfront Festival Prize. He is a Cobourg-based fiction writer, poet, editor, translator, and creative-writing instructor. He has been active in the Toronto literary scene since the mid-1970s. In 1987, he co-founded, with Nicholas Power, the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, and was co-coordinator of the fair for its first three years. In 2008, he became a founding member of the Meet the Presses collective, which puts on the annual Indie Literary Market and administers the bpNichol Chapbook Award.

Stuart is the author of twelve full poetry collections, most recently 70 Kippers: The Dagmar Poems (w/ Michael Dennis; Proper Tales Press, 2020); Motel of the Opposable Thumbs (ECW Press, 2019); A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016), winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry; A Hamburger in a Gallery (DC Books, 2015); Our Days in Vaudeville (Mansfield Press, 2013), for which he collaborated with 29 other Canadian poets; and You Exist. Details Follow. (Anvil Press, 2012), which won the sole award given to an Anglo writer in 2013 by l'Académie de la vie littéraire au tournant du 21ême siècle.

Stuart is also the author of five novels, including Pockets (ECW Press, 2017) and Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew (ECW Press, 2012), co-winner of the Montreal Jewish Library's Award for Fiction on a Jewish Theme, and two story collections — Henry Kafka and Other Stories (The Mercury Press, 1997) and the Relit Award-winning Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books, 2009) — as well as two collaborative novels and two books of personal essays, Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer (Anvil Press, 2005) and Further Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer (Anvil Press, 2015). He is editor of the anthology Surreal Estate: 13 Canadian Poets Under the Influence (The Mercury Press, 2004) and co-editor of Rogue Stimulus: The Stephen Harper Holiday Anthology for a Prorogued Parliament (Mansfield Press, 2012), and has edited several literary magazines, most recently Peter O’Toole: The Journal of One-Line Poems and HARDSCRABBLE. He was the Fiction & Poetry Editor for This Magazine for eight years and had his own imprint, "a stuart ross book," at Mansfield Press for a decade. He currently has an imprint, A Feed Dog Book, for surrealist poetry at Anvil Press.

Stuart’s work has appeared in scores of journals here and in the U.S., including Event, Malahat Review, Harper’s, The Walrus, This Magazine, Geist, Rampike, Canadian Forum, Jubilat, Gargoyle, West Coast Line, illiterature, Arc, Stone the Crows!, Fell Swoop, The Capilano Review, Matrix, Bomb Threat Checklist, sub-Terrain, and Taddle Creek, as well as several anthologies and textbooks. He is the author of innumerable chapbooks, from Proper Tales Press, above/ground press, Happy Monks Press, shreeking violet press, BookThug, Nose in Book Publishing, Curvd H&z, Pink Dog Press, Apt. 9, The Front Press, Puddles of Sky Press, and more. His column "Hunkamooga," which appeared regularly in sub-Terrain until 2012, was nominated for a National Magazine Award and a BC Magazine Award and was praised by the New York Times Book Review blog.

Stuart has frequently collaborated with musicians in live performance and on recordings. In 2008, singer-songwriter Ben Walker adapted 15 of Stuart's poems as pop songs; the results appear on the CD An Orphan's Song: Ben Walker Sings Stuart Ross. In 2014, Stuart became the voice component of the noise trio Donkey Lopez. In 2006 and 2015, Nova Scotia choreographer Lisa Phinney created dance pieces based on Stuart's poems.

Stuart has given readings at hundreds of venues in Canada, the U.S., Slovenia, England, Chile, and Nicaragua. He has appeared widely at festivals, including the Vilenica International Literary Festival (Slovenia), the Ottawa International Writers’ Festival, the Banff-Calgary WordFest, the Ottawa Folk Festival, the Ashkenaz Festival of Yiddish Culture (Toronto), MayWorks (Toronto), Scream in High Park (Toronto), the Vancouver Jewish Book Fair, the West Coast Poetry Festival (Vancouver), Hillside Festival (Guelph), BookFestWindsor, Poetry on the Rocks (Kimberley, BC), Luminato (Toronto), the Lucerne Writers Festival (New Denver, BC), Words in Whitby, and Rage on ’24th (Edmonton).

His work has been translated into Russian, French, Slovene, Nynorsk, Spanish, and Estonian.Stuart has led poetry and fiction workshops for adults and teens and has taught several professional-level editing workshops. He has taught writing at the elementary and high school levels across the country, and has conducted his one-day intensive Poetry Boot Camps in Vancouver, Pickering, Toronto, Oakville, Ottawa, Nelson, New Denver, St. Albert, and Banff.In January 2006, Stuart led a two-week poetry workshop at the Los Parronales Writing Retreat in Chile. He was also invited by the Chilean Ministry of Education to address Chilean English teachers, at the 2006 English Summer Town in Santiago, on using poetry as a language-teaching tool.

Stuart was the 2002 Writer in Residence for the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region, the 2003 Poet in Residence for the Ottawa International Writers' Festival, and the 2005 Electronic Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library’s youth website. In 2010, Stuart was Writer-in-Residence at Queen's University and in winter 2021 the Writer-in-Residence at University of Ottawa, where he taught a fourth-year creative writing course he created: Blowing Up Fiction. Stuart regularly gives talks to teachers, librarians, writers, students, and others on the small press movement, self-publishing, his writing life (now with exciting PowerPoint presentation!), nurturing creativity in non-writers, and other topics. One more thing: he will do a reading in your living room. Contact him for details.

Will travel.


The Book of Grief and Hamburgers. 2022, ECW Press
70 Kippers (with Michael Dennis). 2020, Proper Tales Press
Motel of the Opposable Thumbs. 2019, Anvil Press
Pockets. 2017, ECW Press
A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent. 2016, Wolsak & Wynn


James Tate International Poetry Prize for Cringe System, 2021
Harbourfront Festival Prize for For contributions to Canadian literature, 2019
Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry for A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent, 2016
ReLit Award for Short Fiction for Buying Cigarettes for the Dog, 2010
Eligible for National Public Readings Program:


Presentation Description

I offer readings, talks on publishing and my life in the literary underground, and writing workshops.

Presentation Length:
Poetry, Fiction
Audience Size:
Workshop Description:

My workshops are tailored to the needs of the host school, but the primary emphasis is on introducing students to a wide range of pleasurable, challenging writing strategies.