The WGA is deeply saddened by news of the death of Edmonton poet, professor, critic, and publisher Douglas Barbour. A prominent member of the Alberta literary community, Doug served on the board of directors for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta as a member at large from 1981 to 1983. He was a founding member and president for NewWest Press (Read the NeWest announcement HERE). He also served on the editorial board for OnSpec Magazine.
Most recently, the Book Publishers Association of Alberta announced that the Speculative Fiction Book of the Year” award has been renamed the “Douglas Barbour Award for Speculative Fiction.” The inaugural renamed award was presented to an Alberta publisher at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards in 2022.
From the entry on Douglas Barbour in The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Douglas Barbour, poet, professor, critic, publisher (b at Winnipeg 21 Mar 1940). Douglas Barbour moved to Edmonton in 1969, where he later joined the english department at the University of Alberta. Barbour has read and performed his poetry across Canada and around the world. He is also a lecturer and important critic of contemporary Canadian poetry.
“Minimalist, unmetaphoric, Douglas Barbour’s work since Land Fall (1971) aims for precise linguistic equivalence to the poet’s relation to what his eye sees, a theme worked out most fully in Visions of My Grandfather (1977). In Songbook (1973), Shore Lines (1979) and The Harbingers (1984), writing itself becomes the landscape: the poems create meaning largely through phonemic, often contrapuntal, sound patterns.”
And in his moving blog post tribute, Rob Mclennan wrote of Doug, “I’m sure there are dozens upon dozens of writers across the country that are able to have careers thanks to the support, encouragement and advocacy of Douglas Barbour, happily and enthusiastically (and slightly distractedly) doing all the invisible work that is required for a healthy and sustained literary culture, all while continuing to teach, and produce his own work.”
The WGA wishes to extend our condolences to Doug Barbour’s family and friends. He will be deeply missed by the Alberta writing community.
NeWest Press – IN MEMORIAM: DOUGLAS BARBOUR (1940-2021)
Rob Mclennan’s blog – Douglas Barbour (March 21, 1940-September 25, 2021)
OnSpec Magazine – Farewell to an old friend
Book Publishers Association of Alberta – Speculative Fiction Book of the Year Award renamed to honour Douglas Barbour
The Canadian Encyclopedia – Douglas Barbour
University of Alberta – Douglas Barbour instructor bio
Edmonton Journal – Douglas Barbour Obituary