Solway, David 1941–

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Solway, David 1941–


Born December 8, 1941, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; son of Sam and Sylvia Solway; married Karin Semmler. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: McGill University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1962, Q.M.A., 1966; Concordia University, M.A. (creative writing/English), 1988; Université de Sherbrooke, M.A. (education), 1996; Lajos Kossuth University, Ph.D. (summa cum laude), 1998.


Home—Hudson, Quebec, Canada. E-mail—[email protected].


McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, lecturer in English literature, 1966-67; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Montreal, broadcaster and scriptwriter, 1967-68; Xambakis Institute, Crete, instructor in English as a second language, 1969; Dawson College, Montreal, lecturer in English literature, 1970-71; John Abbott College, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, lecturer in English literature, 1971-99. Brigham Young University, visiting faculty, 1993; Concordia University, writer in residence, 1999-2000; guest lecturer at other universities, including Lajos Kossuth University, 1991, University of Helsinki, 1991, University of Athens, 1992, University of Toronto, 1993, Dalhousie University, 1997, and University of Tennessee, 1999. Associate editor of books in Canada, 2001—.


International PEN, President's Circle of the University of Toronto.


Numerous Canada Council grants, between 1973 and 1996; prize from creative workshop at York University, 1976-77, for The Road to Arginos; QSPELL Awards, 1990, for poetry and for nonfiction; Le Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal nomination, 1997, for Random Walks; Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal, 2004, for Franklin's Passage; A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, 2007.



In My Own Image, McGill Poetry Series (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1962.

The Crystal Theatre, Fiddlehead Poetry Books (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 1971.

Paximalia, Fiddlehead Poetry Books (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 1972.

(Editor) Four Montreal Poets, Fiddlehead Poetry Books (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 1973.

The Egyptian Airforce and Other Poems, Fiddlehead Poetry Books (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 1973.

The Road to Arginos, New Delta (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1976.

Anacrusis, Fiddlehead Poetry Books (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 1977.

Mephistopheles and the Astronaut, Mosaic Press (Oakville, Ontario, Canada), 1979.

Reaching for Clear: The Poetry of Rhys Savarin, Vehicule Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1982.

The Mulberry Men, Vehicule Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1982.

Selected Poetry, Vehicule Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1982.

Stones in Water, Mosaic Press (Oakville, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

Modern Marriage, Vehicule Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1987.

Bedrock, Signal Editions (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1993.

Chess Pieces, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1999.

The Lover's Progress: Poems after William Hogarth, images by Marion Wagschal, Porcupine's Quill (Erin, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Franklin's Passage, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2003.

The Pallikari of Nesmine Rifat, Goose Lane Editions (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), 2004.

Poèmes choisis, 1963-2003, translated and presented by Yves Gosselin, Éditions du Noroît (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2004.

The Properties of Things: From the Poems of Bartholomew the Englishman, Biblioasis (Emeryville, Ontario, Canada), 2007.

Work represented in anthologies, including Essential Voices: An Anthology of Jewish Canadian Poetry, Oberon Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1985; The New Canadian Poets, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985; Border Lines: Contemporary Poetry in English, Copp Clark (Toronto), 1995; Jerusalem: An Anthology of Jewish Canadian Poetry, Vehicule Press, 1996; and Poetry: An Introduction, Bedford Press (Boston, MA), 1998. Contributor of poetry to periodicals.


Education Lost: Reflections on Contemporary Pedagogical Practice (criticism), OISE Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1989.

The Anatomy of Arcadia (travel book), Vehicule Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1992.

Lying about the Wolf: Essays in Culture and Education, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1997.

Random Walks: Essays in Elective Criticism, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1997.

(Translator) Saracen Island: The Poems of Andreas Karavis, Vehicule Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2000.

An Andreas Karavis Companion, Vehicule Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2000.

The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods: Liberal Studies in the Corporate Age, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.

Director's Cut, Porcupine's Quill (Erin, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

(Translator and author of introduction) Demilunes: Little Windows on Québec, Frog Hollow Press (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2005.

The Big Lie: Reflections on Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, LMB Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.

Contributor to books, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996; and Jewish Writers of the Twentieth Century, Fitzroy Dearborn (Chicago, IL). Contributor of essays, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Formalist, Malahat Review, Sewanee Review, Parnassus, Fiddlehead, Antigonish Review, Partisan Review, Canadian Forum, Journal of Modern Greek Studies, International Journal of Applied Semiotics, and Books in Canada.


David Solway is a Canadian poet and nonfiction writer. He has also translated the work of Greek poet Andreas Karavis and written a guide to his work. In addition, Solway has written books of criticism, including Education Lost: Reflections on Contemporary Pedagogical Practice and Lying about the Wolf: Essays in Culture and Education.

Solway's poetry is known for being formal and intellectually challenging. Carmine Starnino in a Books in Canada review of Chess Pieces commented, "Solway has always sided with the more traditional (some would say the only) pieties of poetic practice, and, as such, has set himself against the confessional, common-reader direction of contemporary Canadian poetry; such a treasonous act has left him open to charges of being anachronistic, ornamental, high-brow, undaring, and impersonal." Noting that contemporary critics of poetry tend to rebuff this type of formal poetry, Starnino countered that "it's particularly saddening when the formal poetry being rebuffed is as wise, as tirelessly effortless, as lyrically exquisite, and as moving as Solway's." Of Chess Pieces, Starnino concluded that "nearly every poem catches you off-guard with its originality."

Solway once told CA: "Most of my work has been done in Greece, where I feel imaginatively at home, that is, comfortably uncomfortable. I suspect this has something to do with that peculiar mix of garlic and mythology to be found there, also with its distance from Canada. I write best at some distance from Canada because Canada is Ripvanwinkleland. It is the kind of country in which the suppression of a manuscript and its publication amount to the same thing. Also, I think it is important to escape the influence of Wayne Gretzky. I never write about Canada in order not to prejudice my bid for immortality. Besides, I am out of sympathy with the major schools of poetry in this country because they are derivatively American.

"The events that have inspired my best work or what I regard as my best work consist almost exclusively of bad marriages and good divorces. I mean this quite seriously. I do not write about myself at length for the simple reason that anything an author has to say about his work cannot possibly in the long run make the slightest difference and is merely a species of deflected narcissism. The real reason, of course, is that I am profoundly tempted."



Starnino, Carmine, editor, Staying Alive in a Barbarous Age, Guernica Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.


Books in Canada, winter, 2000, Carmine Starnino, review of Chess Pieces, pp. 17-19.

Times Literary Supplement, November 6, 1992, Sofka Zinovieff, review of The Anatomy of Arcadia, p. 28.