People / Steve McCaffery

Writer, critic, educator. Steven McCaffery was born on January 24, 1947 in Sheffield, England. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Hull University (England), a Master of Arts from York University, and a Doctorate of Philosophy from the State University of New York, Buffalo. McCaffery moved to Toronto in 1968. There, he met fellow experimental poet bpNichol. The two founded the Toronto Research Group in 1973, dedicated to critiquing established forms, meanings, and values through performative gestures and poststructuralist deconstructions. McCaffery, along with Nichol, Paul Dutton, and Rafel Barreto-Rivera, formed the Four Horsemen, a highly influential sound poetry group.

McCaffery has published more than twenty-three books of both poetry and non-fiction, including Theory of Sentiment, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 1992, and The Black Debt, which was short-listed for the Before Columbus Award in 1990. He has won the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative American Poetry twice (1993-1994, 1994-1995). His critical texts include Imagining Language (1998), a substantial, annotated anthology that gathers two millennium of speculation on the written and spoken sign, and the collection North of Intention: Critical Writings 1973-1986 (1986). McCaffery’s poetry seeks to break language away from syntax and is frequently made in collaboration with other artists. He is currently the David Gray Chair of Poetry and Letters at the State University of New York, Buffalo.