University of Manitoba - Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture - Dennis Cooley
Dennis Cooley


Dennis Cooley

Dennis Cooley was born in Estevan, Saskatchewan in 1944 and currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Dennis earned a Bachelor of Education degree (with Distinction), a Bachelor of Arts (High Honours) degree, and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. Aside from writing, Dennis has taught most of his life (excluding one year of upgrading in 1971-2, and one year in 1972-3, when he was an executive assistant in the Blakeney government in Saskatchewan). He has since worked as professor at St. John's College at the University of Manitoba. He also held many labouring jobs during the summers when he was a student. Dennis describes himself as, "rooted in the prairies, fiddling with forms, swerving among the vernacular, the comical, the meditative, the linguistic, and the personal [and] strongly committed to the local and to contemporary understandings of writing." He works in the genre of poetry, especially the long poem, literary travel and literary criticism. Prairie Fire magazine ran a special issue on Dennis's work in the spring of 1998 (Vol. 19, No.1).

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I write largely about things that really excite and interest me. I'm hoping at the same time that will happen for a lot of readers....I'm always surprised at writers who say they find writing painful because I find it enormously joyful and do it every chance I get.


There is no money or fame in being a literary writer (this applies especially to a poet). Do it because you want to and because you like doing it. Learn where you can, be open. Revise. Be patient, don't expect instant notice or wide attention. Rejoice in your writing.


by word of mouth. Ed. Nicole Markotic. Waterloo, ON.: Wilfred Laurier, 2007 ISBN-13-978-1-55458-007-1.

correction line. Saskatoon, SK.: Thistledown, 2008 [forthcoming] country music
. A series of poems that play very loosely off Sinclair Ross’ As for Me and My House. Kalamlaka; 0-9693482-8-2; 2004. Poetry.                        

seeing red. A selection of Dracula poems. Turnstone; 0-88801-277-2; 2003. Poetry.   

Irene. An elegy about the death of Cooley's mother. Turnstone Press; 0-88801-246-2; 2000. Poetry.

the bentley poems. Poems about a Prairie couple. Pachyderm; 1-8959-36-9; 2000. Chapbook.

sunfall. Selected and new poems. House of Anansi; 0-88784-580-0; 1996.

Passwords: Transmigrations between Canada and Europe. A postmodern poetic journal based on teaching and travelling in Europe in 1990. 3-930275-14-7; 1996. Anthology.

goldfinger. Poems that rewrite fairy tales. Staccato Chapbooks; 0-9699385-0-2; 1995. Chapbook.

burglar of blood. Chapbook of Dracula poems. Pachyderm; no ISBN; 1992.

this only home. A series of related poems on astronauts, astronomers, and mariners. Turnstone Press; 0-88801-164-4; 1992.

Perishable Light. A collection of poems from memory, dream, fantasy, set in the Prairies. Coteau Books; 0-919926-78-9; 1988.

Dedications. A collection of poems, many dedicated to friends and other writers. Thisteldown Press; 0-920633-37-4; 1988. Out of Print.

Soul Searching. Poems on the mind/body binary. Red Deer College Press; 0-88995-038-5; 1987. Out of Print.

The Vernacular Muse. A collection of critical essays on the eye and the ear in Canadian literature. Turnstone Press; 0-88801-124-5; 1987. Critical Essays/Anthology.

Bloody Jack. A long discontinuous poem that plays off the narrative of Jack Krafchenko, a famous outlaw from early twentieth-century Manitoba. Turnstone Press; 0-88801-091-5; 1984. Out of Print. Bloody Jack will be coming out in a second edition with the University of Alberta Press.

Fielding. A long poem about Cooley's father, including his death. Thistledown Press; 0-920066-71-2; 1983. Out of Print.

Leaving. A chapbook of lyrical poems about friends and family. Turnstone Press; 0-88801-039-7; 1980. Out of Print.


Inscriptions. A collection of work from 18 Prairie poets. Turnstone Press; 0-88801-168-7; 1992. Poetry Anthology.

Draft. An anthology that includes a large number of new Prairie poets. Out of Print. Turnstone Press; 0-88801-037-0; 1981. Poetry Anthology.

Replacing. The first collection of essays on Prairie poetry. ECW Press; 0-920802-34-6; 1980. Poetry Anthology.