Recorded at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico on February 15, 2012.
Michael Ondaatje, poet, novelist, and noted editor and filmmaker, was born in Sri Lanka in 1943, spent his teenage years in England, and moved to Canada in 1962 where he graduated from the University of Toronto and then Queen’s University, Ontario. He taught English Literature at York University, Toronto, from 1971 to 1990. While mostly known and admired as a novelist, due in part to the worldwide success of The English Patient that was awarded the Booker Prize in 1992 and was later made into the Academy Award-winning film, Ondaatje first won critical acclaim as a poet. Numerous collections include The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems (1970), There’s a Trick With a Knife I’m Learning To Do: Poems, 1963-1978 (1979), both of which won the Canadian Governor General’s award; The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems (1989); and Handwriting (1998).
Ondaatje has written six novels including Coming Through the Slaughter (1976) which won the Canada First Novel Award, Anil’s Ghost (2000) and Divisadero (2007) both of which received the Governor General’s Award, and his recently released The Cat’s Table (2011). Recognition of his work has been universal and includes the Giller Prize, (Canada), the Prix Medicis, (France), the Kiriyama Prize, (U.S.), The Irish Times International Fiction Prize, (Ireland), and the Booker Prize, (England).
With his wife, Linda Spalding, and others, Ondaatje founded and continues to co-edit Brick, A Literary Journal, and he has been poetry editor of Toronto’s independent small press, Coach House Books, for over forty years.
In this episode he is joined in conversation with Carolyn Forché. The companion Reading episode may be found here.
Additional photos of this event are available on Flickr.
You may learn more about this event on the Lannan website; you may also listen to audio recordings of this event there.