Brandt, Di(ana) 1952-
BRANDT, Di(ana) 1952-
PERSONAL: Born 1952, in Winkler, Manitoba, Canada. Education: Mennonite Bible College, B.A. (theology), 1972; University of Manitoba, B.A. (with honors), 1975, Ph.D., 1993; University of Toronto, M.A., 1976.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of English, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Ave., Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4, Canada. Agent—c/o Coach House Books, 401 Huron St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 2G5, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, assistant professor of English, 1986-95; University of Alberta, Canada, writer-in-residence, 1995-96, resident fellow, beginning 1996; Department of English, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, professor.
MEMBER: Writers' Union of Canada, League of Canadian Poets, Manitoba Writers' Guild, PEN.
AWARDS, HONORS: A. L. Wheeler Book Prize, 1975; Gerald Lampert Award, and Governor General's Award for poetry shortlist, Canada Council for the Arts, both 1987, and shortlisted for Dillons Commonwealth Poetry Prize, 1988, all for Questions I Asked My Mother; Patrick Mary Plunkett Memorial Scholar, University of Manitoba, 1989; McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year Award, 1990, for Agnes in the Sky; Canadian Authors' Association National Poetry Award, 1995, and Governor General's Award for poetry shortlist, both 1995, both for Jerusalem, Beloved; Silver National Magazine Award, New Quarterly, 1995, for "The Sound the Wind Makes."
The Bridge; or, What's Wrong with Jim McKenzie (folk opera), music by Esther Wiebe, Canadian Mennonite Bible College (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), c. 1973.
Questions I Asked My Mother (poems), Turnstone Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1987.
Agnes in the Sky (poems), Turnstone Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1990.
Mother, Not Mother (poems), Mercury Press (Stratford, Ontario, Canada), 1992.
(Contributor) What's a Nice Feminist—?, edited and introduced by Sandra Nicholls, Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.
Wild Mother Dancing: Maternal Narrative in Canadian Literature, University of Manitoba Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1993.
Jerusalem, Beloved (poems), Turnstone Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1995.
Dancing Naked: Narrative Strategies for Writing across Centuries (essays), Mercury Press (Stratford, Ontario, Canada), 1996.
Now You Care (poems), Coach House Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
Contributor to Awakenings (poetry/music CD); author of ten-part poem, "Bouquet for St. Mary," commissioned by St. Mary's Anglican Church, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, 2002. Former poetry editor, Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2, and HERizons.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Coproducing Planet Earth (musical CD); Berlin Notes (memoir); coediting two volumes of proceedings from the conference/festival Wider Boundaries of Daring: The Modernist Impulse in Canadian Women's Poetry, held at the University of Windsor, 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Di Brandt was born in Winkler, Manitoba, Canada, and was raised in Reinland, a conservative Mennonite community in southern Manitoba. At the age of seventeen, she left home to pursue her education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Brandt, a professor of English, has written a number or volumes of poetry, and her poems have been set to music and adapted for film, radio, television, dance, and other media forms. They reflect Brandt's cultural views and explore the Mennonite community in ways that provide understanding to those not familiar with its beliefs and practices.
Brandt's debut collection, Questions I Asked My Mother, begins her feminist journey as a poet. In Agnes in the Sky, she continues to break free with poems of memory, anger, and celebration. The poems of Mother, Not Mother will be appreciated by all readers, but they are written for women—mother, daughter, sister.
Wild Mother Dancing: Maternal Narrative in Canadian Literature is Brandt's study of the maternal narrative. She draws on the fiction of Canadian writers such as Margaret Laurence, Jovette Marchessault, Daphne Marlatt, Joy Kogawa, and Sky Lee, and includes oral interviews about childbirth given by Mennonite women. Brandt takes the mother whose voice has been suppressed in the patriarchal literary canon and places her in her rightful position, as caretaker of the child and the world. Jerusalem, Beloved is a collection of three long poems inspired by Brandt's 1991 visit to that historic place.
Dancing Naked: Narrative Strategies for Writing across Centuries is a collection of essays in which Brandt writes of her past as a Mennonite, as well as about poetry and community. She also includes letters and interviews. A Quill and Quire contributor wrote that Brandt's "illustration of a community of fellow novelists and poets dismisses notions of a single, uniform Mennonite experience. Brandt invites us into a literary culture graced by acclaimed names such as Sandra Birdsell and Patrick Friesen that deserves increased scholarly attention." Brandt's essay on poets and poetry titled "Why We Keep on Doing It," is a response to the 1995 essay by Michael Ignatieff published in Time titled "Myth and Malevolence," a discussion about myths and their potential for antisocial impact.
Brandt's poetry in general has reflected her concern about the environment, but her book Now You Care, is devoted entirely to the ecological crisis. Calling this collection "one of Brandt's finest," Clarise Foster wrote in the Globe and Mail: "We live in dark and uncertain days, Now You Care warns the reader. It is poetry that unabashedly chronicles the devastating environmental results of the neglect and injury we humans have inflicted upon our beloved planet. Brandt takes no prisoners; no one escapes responsibility." According to Foster, Now You Care "is poetry that challenges us to pay attention, to understand that we are already suffering the consequences. Perhaps it's not too late."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Canadian Literature, winter, 1997, Dean J. Irvine, review of Jerusalem, Beloved, pp. 187-191; winter, 1998, Lorraine Weir, review of Dancing Naked: Narrative Strategies for Writing across Centuries, pp. 171-712.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 17, 2004, Clarise Foster, review of Now You Care, p. D14.
Herizons, winter, 2004, Rachel Zolf, review of NowYou Care, p. 43.
Quill and Quire, January, 1997, review of DancingNaked: Narrative Strategies for Writing across Centuries, p. 33.
Di Brandt Web site,http://www.dibrandt.ca (March 31, 2005).*