People / Robin Blaser

Writer, educator. Robin Blaser was born in Denver, Colorado in 1925. A poet, scholar, and educator, Blaser is recognized as one of North America’s most outstanding poets of the postwar period. He was a key figure in the San Francisco Renaissance poetry movement of the 1950s and 1960s, alongside Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Jack Spicer. His writing has been characterized as lyrical, containing a passionate commitment to and examination of the experience of beauty as well as the conflict between poetics and fundamentalism in a postmodern world. Blaser attended the University of California at Berkeley in the mid-1950s, graduating with a Master of Arts in English and a Masters in Library Science. Following his graduation in 1955, he worked as a librarian at Harvard’s Widener Library and San Francisco State College Library. In 1966, he moved to Vancouver to teach in the English Department at Simon Fraser University, where he is now a Professor Emeritus.

Blaser has published numerous books of poems and essays—as well as the libretto for the opera, The Last Supper —which helped to establish him as a key figure on the West Coast and as an important influence among other Canadian experimental poets such as Stan Perksy, Brian Fawcett, George Bowering, and bp Nichol. In honour of Blaser’s seventieth birthday, an international conference titled Recovery of the Public World was held in Vancouver to pay tribute to his contribution to Canadian poetry. Blaser’s honours include the Order of Canada in recognition of his outstanding contribution to poetry (2005), a Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry (2006), and the Griffin Poetry Prize for his work, The Holy Opus: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser (2008).