People / Fred Wah

Writer, editor, educator. Fred Wah was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan on January 23, 1939. Though best known as a poet, Wah is also noted for his pioneering work with online, small-press, and literary journals, having co-founded and edited both TISH magazine (1961-1963) and its successor Open Letter (1965-), and, with Frank Davey, established and edited the world’s first online literary magazine, SwiftCurrent (1984-1990). Much of Wah’s writing explores his own Nordic-Asian ancestry in relation to dominant cultures, with his “bio-texts” investigating through prose poetry how personal history is grounded in place and locale. In recent years, Wah has increasingly turned to collaborative mixed media work and performance art.

Wah received a Bachelor of Arts in music and English literature from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Arts in literature and linguistics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he worked with Robert Creeley and Charles Olson. Wah returned to British Columbia in the late 1960s, where he taught at Selkirk College (Kootenays, British Columbia), was the founding coordinator of the writing program at David Thompson University Centre (Nelson, British Columbia), and was one of the founders of the non-profit writing collective, the Kootenay School of Writing. He has also taught at the University of Calgary and was Writer-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University (2006). His achievements include the Governor General’s Award for Poetry (1985), the Stephanson Award for Poetry (1982), the Writers Guild of Alberta Howard O’Hagan Prize for Short Fiction (1996), and the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Writing on Canadian Literature (2000). Wah lives and works in Vancouver.