Photo of Heather Spears

Canadian writer and artist Heather Spears was educated at the University of British Columbia, The Vancouver School of Art and the University of Copenhagen. She has 4 children. She has lived in Denmark and Canada since 1962. An award-winning poet (the Governor-General’s award, 3x the Pat Lowther Award, and The CBC Literary Prize), she has published 15 collections of poetry and 5 novels. The Creative Eye, drawing, vision and the brain (Arcturus, 2010, illustrated 2012, now reissued 2020 as a black-and-white drawing manual) is the first of a series on visual perception. She has 3 books of drawings: Drawn from the Fire (89) Massacre (90); and Line by Line (02). Drawings from the Newborn (86), The Panum Poems (96) and Required Reading (00) contain both poems and full-page drawings. Her latest collection of poetry is I can still draw (08). She has illustrated numerous books and articles; draws at literary festivals, courtroom, dance, theatre and childbirth. Specialising in drawing children, in particular premature and other threatened infants, she exhibits and travels widely and has drawn in hospitals in the Middle East, Europe and America. Over 250 images are collected at the Welcome Trust, London, and are available for reproduction.

"mastery of line and movement,"... "the sureness of her hand and the sympathy of her eye. She writes poems in the same way."

"very fluid lines that come out in words rather than in charcoal ... an almost Zen quality to her attention and emotional rectitude."

"Coming into a book of Heather Spears' poems is to take your life in your hands. Nothing is hidden, the poem follows a line like a sketch, but it is a line which traces a crack in the cosmos."

"She goes looking for trouble, you could say, and finds it in almost every medium."

“I could understand returning to this book (I can still draw) throughout one’s life, which is the mark of a true classic."

“…an intelligent, compassionate engagement with contemporary life....This collection will be seen as a continuation of, and valuable addition to, a mature poet's faithful documentation of her world.”

Residing in Denmark, Heather Spears makes annual reading and lecture tours to Canada. As a practising draughtsman and teacher she has thought deeply about drawing and visual perception, and has written a book on creativity, The Creative Eye (Arcturus 2007, reissued fully illustrated 2012). She is preparing a series of manuals of modelling and drawing the human head and on drawing the figure in motion. She continues medical drawing projects and hospital residencies.

She has attended numerous literary conferences and festivals both as participant and Artist-in-Residence, including Hay-on Wye (97), Mantua Fesitvaletteratura (97 and 98) and The Cheltenham festival (92, 93, 99 - 03). She was Visiting Writing Professional, University of Windsor (99), and Visiting Lecturer in the Humanities, Dalhousie Medical School (99) and Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto (04 and 06).

Heather Spears is a member of PEN, The League of Canadian Poets, The Writers' Union of Canada, SF Canada, The Society of Authors, and Tegnerforbundet af 1919 (Danish drawing association).

The Heather Spears archive is housed at the University of British Columbia in Vanouver and is available for use by researchers and others interested. Many of Heather Spears’s drawings have been purchased by the Welcome Trust.



Woodcock Trust Award, 2015

Wigtown Poetry Competition, Honourable Mention, 2006

Critic's Desk Award, Arc 48, 2002

Pat Lowther Memorial Award, 1986, 1989, 2002, shortlisted 2008

Senior Arts Grant
The Canada Council,
2000-2001-2002, 2005, 2007, 2017

Hawthornden Fellow,
1997, 2005

CBC Literary Prize, 1991

Senior Arts Grant, The Canada Council, 1990, 1991

The Governor General's Award for Poetry, 1989

Arts Grant B, The Canada Council, 1984

Bronfman Award, 1964

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