Jan Zwicky

Poet Spotlight: Jan Zwicky

September 4, 2023
Veronica Martinez

We are delighted to have the talented and award-winning Canadian poet, philosopher, author and musician Jan Zwicky participating at our 7th Cascadia Poetry Festival this upcoming October 6-8! 

Jan Zwicky is a creative and intellectual force that has established herself as an influential figure in the Cascadia bioregion. Native to Alberta and a resident of Quadra Island, Jan Zwicky has published multiple poetry collections and books of philosophy, many of which are award-winning. Along with finding success in her poetry and philosophy, Zwicky has written essays on music, poetry, philosophy and the environment, and has taught philosophy at Princeton, along with universities in Alberta, Waterloo, New Brunswick and Victoria. Along with these many accomplishments, Zwicky is also a violinist and has played with chamber groups and orchestras around Canada.

Zwicky introduces a unique perspective as a poet and musician through her expansive philosophical studies. I was fortunate enough to have a bit of a philosophy lesson while researching her accomplishments for this blog post. Through her multiple philosophical works, Zwicky has explored theories of ineffability–ways in which human experience and thought can transcend past linguistics and cannot be put into words. In her ground-breaking book Lyric Philosophy, Zwicky extends past limited ideals of meaningful language in philosophy and explores meaning, form and content in lyrical contexts. Through her work, she explores the overlap of philosophy and poetry and the truthful nature of the lyric. As a musician and poet myself, I found this concept to be eye-opening, as I never considered ways in which lyric and philosophy can coincide and how we are able to express philosophical thought outside of linguistics. She incorporates her poetic and philosophical thoughts with topics on ecology and modern society, which can be found in her attention to the natural world in her poetry. Her contributions to ecological thinking and philosophy are vital to the Cascadia bioregion and to concerns extending past the bioregion.

Jan Zwicky will be engaging in a talk regarding Eco-poetics with poets Brenda Hillman and Andrew Schelling at the Cascadia Poetry Festival. She is married to Canadian poet and typographer Robert Bringhurst, who will also be speaking at the festival. We are thoroughly honored to be welcoming them both, and I look forward to hearing Zwicky’s poetic and philosophical perspectives!





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