Redhill, Michael 1966- (Michael H. Redhill)

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Redhill, Michael 1966- (Michael H. Redhill)


Born June 12, 1966, in Baltimore, MD; immigrated to Canada; son of Marshall Leo and Linda Ruth Redhill; partner of Anne Simard; children: two sons. Education: Attended Indiana University, York University, and the Banff School of Fine Arts; University of Toronto, B.A., 1992.


E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, poet, editor, screenwriter. Yak (magazine), Toronto, Ontario, Canada, cofounder and editor-in-chief, 1986-90; Brick (literary journal), Toronto, ON, Canada, publisher, 1998—. Coach House Press, Toronto, member of editorial board, 1993-96. Tarragon Theatre, writer-in residence, 1993.


Keisler Poetry Prize, 1985; first prize, League of Canadian Poets National Poetry Contest, 1988; Norma Epstein Award for poetry, 1990; E.J. Pratt Prize for poetry, 1991; Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, 2000, and Dora Award for best new play, 2001, for Building Jerusalem; shortlisted for the Giller Prize, 2001, Trillium Award, 2001, Books in Canada/ Best First Novel Prize, 2002, and Commonwealth Writers Prize, 2002, all for Martin Sloane; Fringe First Award and Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Prize, both 2006, both for Goodness.



Impromptu Feats of Balance, Wolsak & Wynn (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.

Lake Nora Arms, Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.

Asphodel, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

Light-Crossing, Anansi (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.


(Editor, with Steven Heighton and Peter Ormshaw) A Discord of Flags: Canadian Poets Write about the Gulf War (anthology), A Discord of Flags (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.

(Editor) Blues and True Concussions: Six New Toronto Poets, Anansi (Concord, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Building Jerusalem (play; produced in Canada, 1997), Playwrights Canada Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

(Writer and associate producer) It Seems like Yesterday (television series for the History and Theatre Channel), Breakthrough Films, 1997-98.

(Editor, with Michael Ondaatje, Esta Spalding, and Linda Spalding) Lost Classics, Vintage Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Martin Sloane (novel), Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Fidelity (stories), Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

Goodness (play; produced in Canada, 2005), Coach House Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

Consolation (novel), Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of other produced plays, including Be Frank, 1991; Hanging Gardens of Willowdale, 1992; Heretics, 1992; The Monkey Cage, 1993; Lake Nora Arms, 1996; and Doubt, 1999. Contributor to anthologies and to periodicals, including Quill & Quire, Globe & Mail, Books in Canada, and Toronto Life.


Michael Redhill is an American-born writer, now living in Canada, who has produced a number of plays, books of poetry, and fiction. Alexander M. Forbes, in Canadian Literature, called Impromptu Feats of Balance, Redhill's first book of poetry, "a genuinely significant collection of poems, poems which neither ignore the problems of meaning nor endlessly postpone meaning in the face of those problems. The poems are carefully shaped by an epigrammatic wit and irony."

Lake Nora Arms, which Redhill eventually adapted into a play, was first the title of a book of poems that evolved from a particular setting: a hotel, "rich grounds for the narrator's memory and speculation," wrote Marlene Cookshaw in Books in Canada, "allowing the presence of prose, lyric, list, and tall tale." Reviewing the collection for Quill & Quire, Rhea Tregebov said that Redhill's long prose poem "‘Prologue’ is intriguing evidence of the growing maturity of his voice and technique. The dominant emotion of this beautifully cadenced, controlled piece is nostalgia, nostalgia for a lost time and place and, most particularly, a lost love."

The poems of Asphodel include the suite "Ellis Island Found," which evolved from fifteen found poems Redhill collected from various sources discovered at Ellis Island, the entry point for so many immigrants to the United States. Redhill's poems "are weighted with sadness," wrote Tim Bowling in Books in Canada, "made graceful by a controlled and incisive use of image, and look with a calm and intelligent eye on the ephemeral nature of being. In short, this book is a heavy read only enlivened by the poet's obvious skill with language and his command of voice that speaks out from nearly every page." Bowling continued: "This is fine writing, heartfelt and controlled. Redhill composes his poems as if to the graceful rhythm of some invisible grey rain." Quill & Quire reviewer John Degen, meanwhile, commented that Asphodel "proves to be an expert blending of histories, be they personal, general, or imagined."

Many of the poems of Light-Crossing reflect the urban Toronto landscape and concern such topics as love affairs to the joys of being a father. Quill & Quire critic Adam Sol wrote that "Redhill's language is easygoing in its lyricism and thoughtful in its portrayal of the silent but momentous changes that come to us all, like the shifting of tectonic plates."

The title character of Redhill's novel Martin Sloane is reminiscent of American artist Joseph Cornell, whose art consisted of filling boxes with objects. Martin, however, is an Irish-born Canadian in his fifties who enters into a love affair with the narrator, nineteen-year-old Jolene Iolas, an American student studying at Bard College. Martin, who requires a detached existence, visits Jolene but will not let her visit him. After several years, when Jolene is teaching in the States, she forces a Toronto visit. Feeling pressured, Martin disappears, and Jolene hears nothing from or about him for a decade, when her former roommate, Molly, calls her from Dublin to say she has found some of Martin's art in a gallery.

Maclean's contributor Brian Bethune felt that Jolene's appeal as a character stems from the fact that "when she reaches what Redhill calls ‘that twisted moment when we realize that loving other people is very dangerous,’ she still believes ‘that nothing else is worth doing.’" Booklist critic Michael Spinella, meanwhile, called Martin Sloane "a fantastic exploration into the guises and complexities of art, love, and memory." Bliss Broyard reviewed the book for the New York Times Book Review, saying that "whatever I might tell you about what I think the novel means is irrelevant. Its truths reveal themselves slowly and according to what each reader brings to the story. It keeps changing, like something alive. About the novel, like the boxes and love, it matters less what you think than how it makes you feel. So I'll tell you that reading Martin Sloane made me feel melancholic, hopeful, amused, energized, enlightened, unnerved, touched and finally grateful that occasionally a writer comes along who gets real life just right."

In Fidelity, a collection of ten short stories, "Redhill explores the trust and boundaries of what happens in a relationship," noted Booklist critic Michael Spinella. "Mount Morris," the opening tale, concerns a photographer who decides to tell his ex-wife that he has found a new love; "The Lark" focuses on a middle-aged businessman who has an affair with a younger woman. In "The Victim, Who Cannot Be Named," a couple discovers that their teenage daughter has made a sex tape; "its quiet yet shocking conclusion resonates long after the story is finished," remarked Christopher Korenowsky in the Library Journal. "Redhill gives his characters believable vulnerabilities and a touching humanity, even as they make messes of their lives," a contributor in Publishers Weekly stated.

In his second novel, Consolation, Redhill "blends fiction and fact as he contemplates the history of the prosperous metropolis of Toronto," remarked Booklist critic Allison Block. After self-proclaimed "forensic geologist" David Hollis commits suicide, his widow tries to prove her husband's claim that the earliest photographs ever taken of Toronto can be found in a ship that sank more than a century ago in the city's harbor, now buried beneath a landfill. Their story is intertwined with that of Jem Hallam, a struggling young apothecary who settled in Toronto in the 1850s, and his relationship with Samuel Ennis, an eccentric portrait photographer. "Where Hallam's story comes from—who created it, how we happen to be reading it and what sort of confirmation it may provide for David Hollis's theory—is the principal mystery in Redhill's book, whose best musings on photography and time come in its 19th-century portions," commented Thomas Mallon in the New York Times Book Review. "Redhill has created a story that questions what history is and the search for meaning," Robin Nesbitt noted in the Library Journal. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews stated that the author's "descriptions of early Toronto are warmly romantic while still capturing a hard-bitten frontier-times attitude." "The idea that the past isn't dead, or even past" is "scarcely new," Mallon added, "but Redhill's reassertion of it is freshened by a sense of how photography forces us to see a past that's still lurking in the present."



Atlantic Monthly, January 1, 2007, "Cover to Cover," review of Consolation, p. 148.

Book, July-August, 2002, Kevin Greenberg, review of Martin Sloane, p. 79.

Booklist, May 1, 2002, Michael Spinella, review of Martin Sloane, p. 1508; February 15, 2004, Michael Spinella, review of Fidelity, p. 1038; December 15, 2006, Allison Block, review of Consolation, p. 23.

Books in Canada, December, 1990, Barbara Carey, review of Impromptu Feats of Balance, p. 49; February, 1994, Marlene Cookshaw, review of Lake Nora Arms, p. 45; December, 1997, Tim Bowling, review of Asphodel.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 1996, Kim Fahner, review of Blues and True Concussions: Six New Toronto Poets, p. 3235; January 1, 2003, Sarah Robertson, review of Fidelity, p. 203; January 1, 2004, Kimberly J. Frail, review of The Journey Prize Stories, 16: From the Best of Canada's New Writers, p. 262.

Canadian Literature, summer, 1993, Alexander M. Forbes, review of Impromptu Feats of Balance, pp. 82-84; winter, 1996, Anthony Raspa, review of Lake Nora Arms, pp. 189-191; spring, 2004, Erick Henderson, review of Loss and Longing; winter, 2004, Robert Amussen, review of Less Is More.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of Martin Sloane, p. 607; January 1, 2004, review of Fidelity, p. 13; October 15, 2006, review of Consolation, p. 1041.

Library Journal, February 15, 2004, Christopher Korenowsky, review of Fidelity, p. 164; December 1, 2006, Robin Nesbitt, review of Consolation, p. 113.

Maclean's, May 14, 2002, Brian Bethune, review of Martin Sloane, p. 67.

National Post, September 9, 2006, Frank Moher, "A Love-hate Tale of Toronto," p. 13.

New York Times Book Review, June 19, 2002, Richard Eder, review of Martin Sloane, p. 7; July 7, 2002, Bliss Broyard, review of Martin Sloane, p. 8; February 4, 2007, Thomas Mallon, "Pictures at an Excavation," review of Consolation, p. 6.

Print, July 1, 2004, Caitlin Dover, review of Books, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, May 20, 2002, review of Martin Sloane, p. 46; February 23, 2004, review of Fidelity, p. 51; November 27, 2006, review of Consolation, p. 33.

Quill & Quire, December, 1993, Rhea Tregebov, review of Lake Nora Arms, p. 24; May, 1997, John Degen, review of Asphodel, p. 35; June, 2001, Adam Sol, review of Light-Crossing, p. 47.

School Library Journal, March 1, 2007, Sallie Barringer, review of Consolation, p. 244.

Times Literary Supplement, June 14, 2002, Keith Miller, review of Martin Sloane, p. 22.


January Magazine, (July 25, 2002), Margaret Gunning, review of Martin Sloane.

Read Magazine, (fall, 2000), Maya Mavjee, "Portrait of the Artist: An Interview with Michael Redhill."

University of Toronto, (July 1, 2007), "Michael Redhill."