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Dennis Cooley

Born Dennis Cooley
Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Occupation Author, Writer, Editor.
Language English
Nationality Canadian
Education Bachelor of Education Degree, Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree, Masters of Arts Degree, Ph.D
Notable awards

University of Saskatchewan Teaching Fellowship, Canada Council award, University of Rochester Tuition Scholarships, University of Manitoba Research Grant, Olive Beatrice Stanton award, SSHRC Leave Fellowship, Manitoba Arts Council Award, University of Manitoba outreach award, Western Magazine Award for arts commentary, Visiting Professor in Canadian Studies,

Featured reader at Moorhead State University, "Favourite Poet" in Write: Readers' Choice poll, Departmental Distinguished Lecturer of the Year Award.
Spouse Diane Cooley
Children Megan Cooley & Dana Cooley

Dennis Cooley (born August 27, 1944) is a Canadian author of poetry and criticism, a retired university professor, and a vital figure in the evolution of the prairie long poem. He was raised by his parents on a farm near the small city of Estevan, Saskatchewan in Canada, and currently resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is currently married to his wife, Diane, and is the father of two daughters, Megan and Dana. Dennis's self-proclaimed his influences in writing to be William Carlos Williams, H.D., Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, E.E. Cummings, Eli Mandel, Andrew Suknaski, Daphne Marlatt, bpNichol, Michael Ondaatje, and Robert Kroetsch.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Recognition 3
  • External links 4

Early life

As a student, Dennis held a variety of different laboring jobs during the summers.[2] First attending secondary schooling at the University of Saskatchewan, Dennis obtained with added Distinction his Bachelor of Education Degree in 1966, a High Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1967[3] and afterwards upgraded to his Masters of Arts Degree on Stephen Crane's imagery and symbolism in 1968.[4]

Dennis later moved on to New York City to attend one of the United State’s top private universities - the University of Rochester. It was there that Dennis prepared his first Doctorate on the San Francisco-born American poet, Robert Duncan. This aided in his earning of his Ph. D in 1971.[5]


From 1972-1973, Dennis was employed within the Blakeney Government in Saskatchewan as an executive assistant.[6] Apart from this, most of Dennis’s working life has been spent with aiding those in learning how to utilize the English language. He has worked at

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External links

  • (1967-1968) University of Saskatchewan Teaching Fellowship.
  • (1968-1971) Canada Council award for graduate study.
  • (1968-1971) University of Rochester Tuition Scholarships.
  • (1975) University of Manitoba Research Grant to work on the Duncan papers in the Bancroft Library at Berkeley.
  • (1979) Olive Beatrice Stanton award for excellence in teaching.
  • (1981-1982) SSHRC Leave Fellowship.
  • (1987) Manitoba Arts Council Award to write a screen play based on Bloody Jack.
  • (1987) University of Manitoba outreach award.
  • (1988) Perishable Light nominated for McNally Robinson Book Award.
  • (1989) Western Magazine Award for arts commentary.
  • (1990) Visiting Professor in Canadian Studies, University of Trier, West Germany— May–July.
  • (1990) Featured reader at Moorhead State University in the Thomas McGrath reading series.
  • (May 5, 1995) City of Estevan official Dennis Cooley day.
  • (1996) Guest Professor in Canadian Studies at Universität Augsburg.
  • (2000) Irene nominated for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award.
  • (2000) Named "Favourite Poet" in Write: Readers' Choice poll.
  • (2001) Irene nominated for McNaly Robinson book of the Year Award.[26]
  • (2012) Departmental Distinguished Lecturer of the Year Award from the University of Windsor, Ontario for his Lecture A Lover's Question: Staging Romance in Kroetsch's The Sad Phoenician.[27]

Dennis is the recipient of twelve Manitoba Book Awards, and the Lifetime Achievement Award.[25] He has also won or been nominated for the following:


  • Cooley, D (Ed.) (1981) In the Name of Narid: New Poems. Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill.
  • Cooley, D (Ed.) (1981) Draft: An Anthology of Prairie Poetry. Toronto, ON: Turnstone Press.
  • Cooley, D (Ed.) (1980) Replacing. Toronto, ON: ECW.
  • Cooley, D (Ed.) (1992) Inscriptions: Prairie Poetry. Winnipeg, MB: Turnstone Press.[24]

Books Edited

  • Cooley, D. (1980) Leaving. Lyrical poems about friends and family, Turnstone Press. ISBN 0-88801-0397[23]
  • Cooley, D. (1983) Fielding. Poem about Cooley's father, including his death. Thistledown Press. ISBN 0-920066-71-2.
  • Cooley, D. (1984) Bloody Jack. Poem that plays off the narrative of Jack Krafchenko, a famous outlaw from early twentieth-century Manitoba. Turnstone Press. ISBN 0-88801-091-5; 1984
  • Cooley, D. (1987) Soul Searching. Poems on the mind/body binary. Red Deer College Press. ISBN 0-88995-038-5; 1987.
  • Cooley, D. (1987) The Vernacular Muse. Critical essays on the eye and the ear in Canadian literature. Turnstone Press. ISBN 0-88801-124-5; 1987.
  • Cooley, D. (1988) Dedications. Poems dedicated to friends and other writers. Thistledown Press.
  • Cooley, D. (1988) Perishable Light. Poems from memory, dream, fantasy, set in the Prairies. Coteau Books. ISBN 0-919926-78-9
  • Cooley, D. (1992) Eli Mandel and His Works. ECW Press.
  • Cooley, D. (1992) This Only Home. Poems on astronauts, astronomers and mariners. Turnstone Press. ISBN 0-88801-164-4
  • Cooley, D. (1992) Burglar of Blood. Dracula poems. Pachyderm Press.
  • Cooley, D. (1996) Sunfall. Selected and new poems. House of Anansi Press.
  • Cooley, D. (2000) Irene Poetry about the death of Cooley's mother. Turnstone Press. ISBN 0-88801-246-2
  • Cooley, D. (2002) Bloody Jack. 2nd. ed. University of Alberta. ISBN 0-88864-391-8
  • Cooley, D. (2003) Seeing Red Dracula Poems. Turnstone Press. ISBN 0-88801-277-2
  • Cooley, D. (2004) Country Music New Poems. Kalamalka. ISBN 0-9693482-8-2
  • Cooley, D. (2006) The Bentleys Poems of a prairie couple. University of Alberta. ISBN 978-0-88864-470-1
  • Cooley, D. (2007) By Word of Mouth Canadian identity poems. Wilfred Laurier. ISBN 978-1-55458-007-1
  • Cooley, D. (2008) Correction Line Reconstructing Memory poems. Thistledown Press. ISBN 978-1-897235-50-8
  • Cooley, D. The Stones Prairie Relation poems. Turnstone Press. ISBN 978-0888014498


Dennis is currently keeping busy by working on personal travel journals, poetry books, and a plethora of essays.[22]

Dennis has travelled abroad to share his talent by giving workshops, lectures and readings to places such as Russia (Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, Chernivtsi, and Moscow) in May 1991, to the World Poetry Conference in Portugal in May 1995 and again in May 2001, Berlin in August 2002, Poland in April 1999, and Spain in December 1998.[19] To benefit those who don’t read his native language of English, some of his work has been translated into Portuguese, German, Chinese and Ukrainian.[20] Dennis gave his time to the University of Augsburg in the summer of 1996 by being the Canadian Studies guest professor.[21]

Dr. Cooley specializes in different genres of poetry; such as literary travel, literary criticism, and the long poem.[16] He shows special interest in Canadian Literature, American Writing, modern and postmodern writing, the languages of orality and print, poetry and politics, and literary theory.[17] To date, Dennis has published a dozen volumes of poetry, and over a hundred various articles, columns, reviews, and interviews.[18]


With Danid Arnason, he runs the Internet-based Canlit archives.[15]

The Turnstone Press is praised by western Canada for its high quality of book publishers, and has been nominated or won the Governor General's Literary Awards, the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, The Giller Prize, the Leacock Prize, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, The Lambda Awards, The Rogers Trust Prize, The Relit Awards, and other local awards.[14]

Dennis is a founding editor of the Turnstone Press in Winnipeg, Manitoba,[13] which was created in 1976 in a local Winnipeg pub. The Turnstone Press consists of only authors that are landed immigrants or Canadians. They publish fiction, non-fiction, literary criticism, and poetry, and prefer to publish a variety of genres. They are known to give out chances to new authors and publish first time writers. Taking this chance has benefitted then-new authors Di Brandt, John Gould, Lawerence Hill, Sylvia Legris, Margaret Sweatman, and Armin Wiebe. The Turnstone press pushed to publish writing that is fifty percent done with local Manitoba content or by Manitoban writers.

Dennis is also an editor, and from 1975-1976 was the Assistant Editor on the Journal of Canadian Fiction, the Poetry Editor of Arts Manitoba from 1978-1979 and 1982-1983, the Contributing Editor to Border Crossings from 1989-1993, as well as the Editor at the Pachyderm Press from 1993 onward. He also worked for numerous years as the Workshop Leader at the Sage Hill Writing Experience in 1992, 1998, 1999, and 2000.[12]

He has since helped start create the Manitoba Writers’ Guild, and is currently President.[10] The Manitoba Writers Guild is a support group for writers in Manitoba and was formed in 1981 in Aubigny, Manitoba. It is here that they offer workshops, local reading groups and peer support for enhancing and encouraging other writers of all skill levels.[11]

[9] He retired from his occupation as a professor at St. John's College at the University of Manitoba in 2011.[8], Prairie Literature, the Long poem in the Twentieth Century, Canadian Writers in Self-construction, Fundamentals of Literary Theory, American Literature, Creative Writing, Poetry & Media 1994-1995, Narratology & Postcolonialism.Eli Mandel, Robert Kroetsch, Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Livesay and taught Early Modern and Contemporary poetry, specialized in Robert Duncan, [7]

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