Redhill, Michael H. 1966-
REDHILL, Michael H. 1966-
PERSONAL: Born June 12, 1966, in Baltimore, MD; immigrated to Canada; son of Marshall Leo and Linda Ruth (maiden name, Strasberg) Redhill; partner of Ann Simard; children: two sons. Education: Attended Indiana University, York University, and the Banff School of Fine Arts; University of Toronto, B.A., 1992.
ADDRESSES: Office—50 Baldwin St., Toronto, Ontario M5T 1L4, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, poet, editor, screenwriter. Yak (magazine), Toronto, Ontario, Canada, cofounder and editor-in-chief, 1986-90; Brick (magazine), managing editor, contributing editor. Coachhouse Press, Toronto, member of editorial board, 1993-96. Tarragon Theatre, writer-in residence, 1993. Has also worked as a house painter, waiter, and bookseller.
AWARDS, HONORS: 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; Dora Award for best new play, and Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, both 2000, for Building Jerusalem; shortlisted for the Giller Prize, 2001, for Martin Sloane; Commonwealth Writers Prize, 2002.
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) Discord of Flags (anthology), 1992.
(Editor) Blues and True Concussions: Six New TorontoPoets, 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 others) Lost Classics, 2000.
Martin Sloane (novel), Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Fidelity (stories), Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
Other produced plays include 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.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael Redhill is a United States-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, one of Redhill's first books 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 evolve 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 same collection in 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 focus on the lack of meaning in contemporary life, as well as death and memory. They evolve from fifteen found poems Redhill collected from various sources discovered at Ellis Island, the entry point of 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's John Degen, meanwhile, commented that Asphodel "proves to be an expert blending of histories, be they personal, general, or imagined."
Most of the poems of Light-Crossing reflect the urban Toronto landscape and follow themes that range from love affairs to the joys of being a father. Quill & Quire's 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 won't 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's 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."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, July-August, 2002, Kevin Greenberg, review of Martin Sloane, p. 79.
Booklist, May 1, 2002, Michael Spinella, review of Martin Sloane, p. 1508.
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.
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.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of MartinSloane, p. 607.
Maclean's, May 14, 2002, Brian Bethune, review of Martin Sloane, p. 67.
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.
Publishers Weekly, May 20, 2002, review of MartinSloane, p. 46.
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.
Times Literary Supplement, June 14, 2002, Keith Miller, review of Martin Sloane, p. 22.
January (magazine), http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (July 25, 2002), Margaret Gunning, review of Martin Sloane.*