Stephanie Bolster is a Canadian poet interested in perception and representation, and in place and displacement, with a particular focus on the visual arts (especially photography), “ruin porn,” architecture, domestic spaces, theme parks, and the “middle landscape” of zoos and gardens. She has published four books of poetry, the first of which, White Stone: The Alice Poems, won the Governor General’s and the Gerald Lampert Awards in 1998. Her latest book, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth (2011) was a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award (from the League of Canadian Poets), and an excerpt from her current project was a finalist for the Canada Writes/CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. Editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008 and co-editor of Penned: Zoo Poems, she teaches creative writing at Concordia University in Montréal. Although her supervision to date has consisted of literary works, her ekphrastic practice as a writer inclines her to work with visual or performing artists whose work has a textual component.
Art and Research Interest
Long Exposure, her current project, is a book-length poem that takes as its starting point Robert Polidori’s post-disaster photographs of New Orleans and Chernobyl. This interrogation of the writer’s relationship to looking and to art-making also concerns itself with, among other subjects, Japan’s 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, ghost towns, Expo 1986 and Vancouver’s propensity for architectural self-transformation, the generative and destructive potential of the kudzu vine in the American South, and the recent designation of the Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl as a wildlife sanctuary populated by the endangered Przewalski’s horse.
As a thesis supervisor, she has worked with students writing in a range of genres and approaches to genre: collections of discrete poems, linked and long poems, cross-genre writing, digital poetry, and prose in the form of short fiction and the novel. As both a writer and a supervisor, she is particularly interested in process, and drawn to sustained, critically engaged, self-reflexive works that are — and offer — an experience, rather than a rendering of an experience.
The long poem and the poem series, Ekphrasis, Ruin porn, Disaster tourism, Environmental transformation, Middle landscape, Zoos, Vermeer and other Dutch painters of the 17th century, Japanese aesthetics and culture, Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell