Beardsley, J. Douglas (Doug)

Doug Beardsley, poet and educator (b at Montréal 27 April 1941). Beardsley is a contemporary Canadian poet whose collections demonstrate his interest in poetic form, religious themes, and Canada's emergent nationalist movement. A wide-ranging scholar and teacher, he has developed courses on hockey literature and is an authority on the Holocaust.

Beardsley began writing poetry in the 1960s, when he took classes with Irving LAYTON at Sir George Williams University (now CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY) from 1963-1965 and sat in on Louis DUDEK's classes at MCGILL UNIVERSITY. While in Montréal Beardsley met his future wife, Canadian literary critic and poet Rosemary Sullivan; they studied and taught in the US, England, and France between 1967 and 1974. Upon his return to Canada, Doug Beardsley completed a BA in creative writing with Robin SKELTON at the UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA (1976). Beardsley's earliest books of poetry were published during this period: Going Down into History (1976) and The Only Country in the World Called Canada (1976). Beardsley then moved to Toronto, completing an MA in English literature at YORK UNIVERSITY (1978), where he again worked with Irving Layton and studied with Eli MANDEL. Six Saanich Poems (1977) and Play on the Water: The Paul Klee Poems (1978) were published during Beardsley's time in Toronto. He returned to Victoria in the late 1970s, and taught at the University of Victoria from 1981 to 2006.

Beardsley's early work reflects his growing concern with sacred landscape and Canadian nationalism. The volumes Beardsley published in the 1980s, such as Pacific Sands (1980), Kissing the Body of My Lord: The Marie Poems (1982), and A Dancing Star (1988), which was nominated for the BC Book Prize, develop Beardsley's religious and national visions and explore the relationship of Canada's history to the formation of the Canadian psyche. Beardsley's later work, spanning the collections Free To Talk (1992) and Inside Passage (1993), further develops his political and nature poetry, making use of the confessional genre. Increasingly, too, it focuses upon theological and religious themes, reflecting Beardsley's renewed interest in Christianity, which culminates in his calling to the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. Doug Beardsley's most recent collection, Wrestling with Angels (1995), threads together some of the finest of his earlier poems with his newer poems.

Doug Beardsley has collaborated with acclaimed Canadian poet Al PURDY, extending their pub conversations into co-edited publications of the poetry of 17th-century English poet John Donne and the early 20th-century English writer D.H. Lawrence: The Man Who Outlived Himself: An Appreciation of John Donne: A Dozen of His Best Poems (2000, awarded a British Columbia Millennium Book Award), and No One Else Is Lawrence: A Dozen of D.H. Lawrence's Best Poems (1998). Beardsley has also collaborated with other poets, publishing Premonitions and Gifts with Theresa Kishkan (1979) and Poems with Charles LILLARD (1989).

As a friend and longtime correspondent of Irving Layton, Beardsley became aware of the importance of the Holocaust in 20th-century writing. He taught courses on the Holocaust at the University of Victoria from 1996 to 2006, and has become an authority in Canada on the subject. He has been recognized in Israel for his services to Holocaust education.

Beginning in the 1980s, Beardsley turned to Canada's unofficial national sport, HOCKEY, as a means to define Canadian identity. Country on Ice (1987) and the anthology The Rocket, The Flower, The Hammer, and Me (1988) are classics in the genre of hockey literature. Beardsley also edited a later edition of Canadian prose on hockey, Our Game: An All-Star Collection of Hockey Fiction, in 2000. He has developed and taught courses on hockey literature, inspiring course offerings at universities across the country.

Doug Beardsley's poetry has been recognized with nominations for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (1989) and the George Woodcock Poetry Prize (1995). He lives in Victoria, BC.