New Brunswick Author Portal

Joe  Blades
Categories: Male AuthorsAnglophone AuthorsPoetsSaint John River Valley

photo of author
Source: Brigette Noël


Joe Blades was born in Halifax, NS in 1961, and raised in Elmsdale and Dartmouth (where he graduated from Prince Andrew High School). A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (BFA, 1988), he is also an alumni of the Banff Centre, Maritime Writers Workshop, Sage Hill Writing Experience, and Simon Fraser University’s Book Publishing Immersion Workshop. In 2008, he completed a Certificate in Film and Television through the NB Filmmakers’ Co-operative. He is a Fredericton-based writer, artist, and the founding publisher-president of Broken Jaw Press Inc., plus he is on the editorial board of revue ellipse mag.

His poetry and art have appeared in numerous periodicals and over 55 anthologies. Blades is editor of ten publications. He has authored 30 chapbooks and limited edition artist books, and five poetry books – two of which have also been translated and published in Serbia. Since 1995, he has been a community radio producer – host at CHSR 97.9 FM with Ashes, Paper & Beans: Fredericton’s Writing & Arts Show. Blades is the 2008 – 2010 Vice President-Membership Chairperson of the League of Canadian Poets.

How has New Brunswick influenced your work?

New Brunswick has been a big influence on my work and that influence started long before I started being active literary-wise in Fredericton in July 1988. I remember reading Alden Nowlan poems in school; Bliss Carman too. I read David Adams Richards novels, and the work of a great many New Brunswick poets including Robert Gibbs, Robert Hawkes, Fred Cogswell, Brian Bartlett, Travis Lane – in part because I, in Halifax, acquired several of the New Brunswick Poetry Chapbooks published by Nancy Bauer, but also because of Fiddlehead Poetry Books, The Fiddlehead magazine and its contributors. In 1986 or 1988 I first met Acadian poet Gérald Leblanc at a writing workshop we were both attending at the Naropa Institute in Halfiax.

Since moving here in 1990, New Brunswick has had a significant role in my poetry and other writings, as well as in my publishing work and my life. Periodicals including Wild East, Pottersfield Portfolio, éloizes, The Cormorant, The NB Reader, Qwerty, and revue ellipse mag have all been key to the publishing of my writings. Chapbooks including Stones of My Flesh (Fredericton: Wild East, 1992. Reprinted in London, ON: SpareTime Editions, 1995) and In the Valley of the Shadow of Poets’ Corner (Ottawa: above/ground press, 1994), as well as the books River Suite (Toronto: Insomniac Press, 1998), Casemate Poems (Waterloo: Widows & Orphans, 2004), the forthcoming Casemate Poems (Collected) (Ottawa: Chaudiere Books) and the “Prison Songs” section of the forthcoming Prison Songs & Storefront Poetry (Victoria: Ekstasis Editions) were written in and, for the most part, set in New Brunswick: River Suite’s poems travel the Saint John River’s valley; all of the Casemate Poems were written during public artist residencies in the historic garrison district of Fredericton.

As a publisher I have produced works by a great many New Brunswick authors including Allan Cooper, Karen Davidson, Julie Doiron, Jo-Anne Elder, William Forrestall, Raymond Fraser, Robert Gibbs, Edward Gates, Robert Hawkes, Emelie Hubert, John Leroux, George MacBeath, Robin Peck, Sarah Petite, David Adams Richards, Nela Rio, Tony Steele, Vladimir Tasic, Serge Patrice Thibodeau, Lee D. Thompson, Doug Underhill, R.M. Vaughan and WhiteFeather.

What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far?

The thing that has most amazed me has been my ongoing and growing literary affair or adventure in Central Europe. It is pretty incredible to live as a writer and artist in Canada but it seems even more incredible to see my poetry accepted, translated, published and embraced in a part of the world where I had no history but where I am now actively contributing to their literature while collaborating with their writers, translators, artists and academics. It started because I accepted an invitation to participate in the 2004 Belgrade International Book Fair (or it started because my Broken Jaw press in 1998 published in English translation a short story collection Herbarium of Souls by Serbian-Canadian Vladimir Tasic, a mathematics professor at the University of New Brunswick). I have since had one English-Serbian chapbook and two poetry books translated and published in Serbia. A third book translation is in the works to be published in Banja Luka, Bosnia. I had been an artist guest at a conference in Serbia; have participated in three Belgrade book fairs (including once as the only English-language publisher from North America); and have done numerous print, radio and television interviews in the Balkan region. I am an active member of the Central European Association for Canadian Studies, working on research projects; presenting papers at conferences and building relationships/friendships with people throughout the region. Students will be translating my poems into Romanian at a university there. I have been including poets and their poems from Central Europe in arts activities in New Brunswick.

Featured Publication

From the Book that Doesn’t Close

If a man digs into the things about him with poetry
He will finally come to his dragon.

gulf of st Lawrence lobsters and a nice wine
theatre a good turn of phrase autobio

artworks some new poems that’s all
now I live with a second shadow behind

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Source(s): Author