by George J. Dance

David Solway

David Solway. Courtesy Conseils des artes et des lettres Quebec.

David Solway
Born December 8, 1941
Montreal, Quebec.
Occupation essayist, poet
Nationality Canada Canadian
Education Q.M.A.
Alma mater McGill University
Notable award(s) A.M. Klein Poetry Prize

David Solway (born December 8, 1941) is a Canadian poet, educational theorist, travel writer, and literary critic.


Solway attended McGill University in Montreal, where he earned a B.A. in 1962 and a Q.M.A. (in philosophy) in 1966.[1] His debut collection, In My Own Image, was published in 1961 as part of the McGill Poetry Series.[2]

He has taught at McGill, Dawson College, and John Abbott College in Montreal, and at Brigham Young University in Utah. He has also worked as a broadcaster and scriptwriter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and as an ESL teacher in Crete.[1]

After 9/11, Solway became an outspoken defender of Zionism, George W. Bush, and the war on terror.[3]

Solway has published poetry under several pen names or invented heteronyms (poets whose work he has purported to translate): Andreas Karavis, Nesmine Rifat, and Rhys Savarin. In 2000 he also published a prose work, The Andreas Karavis Companion.[4]



The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature characterizes Solway's early work as characterized by a "rebellious romanticism [which] suggests the influence of Leonard Cohen ." Even in the first work of his "poetic maturity," The Road to Arginos (1976), "the influence of Cohen is still discernible, most notably in the way the poetry rises from a fruitful tension between his Jewish background and interests and a Greek-island lifestyle." Since then, though, "Solway has shed his ‘pop-culture’ influences and espoused a rigorous technical discipline that has resulted in poetry that manages to combine the lyric facility and intensity of W.B. Yeats and the classical fastidiousness of Robert Graves."[5]

The Companion considers "his most brilliant tour de force" to be "Modern marriage (1987), a series of fifty conversational sonnets where a human marital dispute, in the tradition of George Meredith's Modern love (1862), is the convenient basis for a witty and profound inquiry into life's oppositions: art/nature, soul/blood, reality/illusion, poetry/prose, movement/stasis."[5]


Reviewing Solway's 2007 book of essays, The Big Lie, Mark Heffernan commented: "David Solway is a brilliant writer. The power of his sentences, amplified by a rich and precisely honed vocabulary, places him in that rarefied category of essayists for whom, as with Christopher Hitchens , rhetoric is a genie that holds sway over the reader's mind."[3]


Awards won by Solway include:[4]

  • Peter Rutherford Memorial Prize for Literature (McGill University), 1961.
  • Lt. Gov.’s Gold Medal (McGill University), 1962
  • Lionel Shapiro Prize for Creative Writing (McGill University), 1962.
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (University of California at Berkeley), 1963.
  • York Poetry Workshop Award (York University), 1977.
  • Canada Council Arts Grants (occasional awards 1967-2003).
  • Canada Council Senior Arts Travel Grant, 1984/85.
  • Graduate Fellowship, Concordia University, 1986/87.
  • Quebec Ministry of Cultural Affairs, bourses du Québec (occasional awards 1987- 2004).
  • QSPELL Poetry Award, 1989. For Modern Marriage.
  • QSPELL Non-Fiction Award, 1990. For Education Lost.
  • Le Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal, 2004. For Franklin’s Passage.
  • A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry, 2007. Reaching for Clear: The Poetry of Rhys Savarin.[6]



  • In My Own Image. Montreal: McGill Poetry Series, 1961.
  • The Crystal Theatre. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Books, 1971.
  • Paximalia. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Books, 1972.
  • The Egyptian Airforce. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Books, 1973.
  • The Road To Arginos. Montreal: Delta Canada, 1976/77.
  • Anacrusis. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Books, 1977.
  • Twelve Sonnets. Montreal: Mansfield Book Mart, 1978.
  • Mephistopheles And The Astronaut. Toronto: Mosaic Press, 1979.
  • The Mulberry Men. Montreal: Véhicule Press (Signal Editions), 1982.
  • Selected Poetry. Montreal: Véhicule Press (Signal Editions), 1982.
  • Stones In Water. Toronto: Mosaic Press, 1983.
  • Modern Marriage. Montreal: Véhicule Press, 1987/88.
  • Bedrock. Montreal: Véhicule Press (Signal Editions), 1993.
  • Chess Pieces. Montreal & Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999.
  • Saracen Island: The poems of Andreas Karavis. Montreal: Véhicule Press (Signal Editions), 2000.
  • The Lover’s Progress: Poems after William Hogarth. Erin, ON: The Porcupine’s Quill, 2001. (Dramatized by Curtain Razors Theatre Group, Regina, November 21-23, 2002.)
  • Franklin’s Passage. Montreal & Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.
  • The Pallikari of Nesmine Rifat. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2005.
  • Reaching for Clear: The poetry of Rhys Savarin. Montreal: Véhicule Press (Signal Editions), 2006.
  • The Properties of Things. Windsor, ON: Biblioasis, 2007.


  • Education Lost. Toronto: OISE Press, 1989.
  • The Anatomy of Arcadia (travel). Montreal: Véhicule Press, 1992.
  • Lying About The Wolf: Essays in culture and education. Montreal & Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997.
  • Random Walks: Essays in elective criticism. Montreal & Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997.
  • An Andreas Karavis Companion.Montreal: Véhicule Press, 2000.
  • The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods: Liberal studies in the corporate age. Montreal & Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001.
  • Director’s Cut (literary essays). Erin, ON: Porcupine’s Quill, 2003.
  • On Being a Jew (chapbook). Toronto: David Mason Books, 2003.
  • The Big Lie: Reflections on terror, antisemitism, and identity. Toronto: Lester, Mason & Begg, 2007.
  • Hear, O Israel!. 2009.[6]


  • Demilunes (translation of 32 Québécois poets). Victoria, BC: Frog Hollow Press, 2005.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy University of Toronto .[2]

See alsoEdit

David Solway reads The Multiculti Tango (VII)

David Solway reads The Multiculti Tango (VII)


  • The Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada (edited by W.H. New). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002. p. 1058.
  • David Solway: Essays on His Works (edited by Carmine Starnino. 2001.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "David Solway: Biography," Canadian Poetry Online,, Web, July 14, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "David Solway: Publications," Canadian Poetry Online,, Web, July 14, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mark Heffernan, "The Big Lie," Montreal Review of Books 11;1 (Fall/Winter 2007), Web, July 14, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Except where noted, award information courtesy: "David Solway: Awards," Canadian Poetry Online,, Web, July 14, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "David Solway," Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature,, Web, July 14, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "David Solway," Wikipedia, Web, July 14, 2011.

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