Jan Zwicky is one of Canada’s most respected artists and intellectuals, known equally for her highly original work in philosophy and her intensely lyrical poetry. She has published over a dozen books of poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and translation including Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, which won the Governor General’s Award, Robinson’s Crossing, which won the Dorothy Livesay Prize, and Forge, which was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Her philosophical meditation Wisdom & Metaphor was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for nonfiction.
Zwicky obtained her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto and subsequently taught at a number of North American universities, including Princeton. As both poet and philosopher, she frequently focuses on the natural world and questions of ecology. In the ’80s and ’90s, she developed and taught some of the first courses in environmental studies at Canadian universities as well as interdisciplinary courses in the humanities, courses in early Greek philosophy and courses in the thought of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
She is also an accomplished orchestral and chamber violinist with a strong interest in baroque performance practice. Individual musical compositions feature frequently in her poems and musical thinking plays a fundamental role in her philosophical thought. Before she moved from Victoria in 2009, she performed regularly with Festival Baroque, the Victoria Symphony, and other ensembles in the area.
Zwicky’s poetry has been published in translation in a number of European languages, and she lectures widely in North America and Europe. A native of Alberta, she now lives on Quadra Island, British Columbia.