Robert Bringhurst

Wild Language, by renowned poet, typographer, and linguist Robert Bringhurst, is the first title in the Ralph Gustafson Distinguished Poets Lecture Series. Bringhurst was the 2003 Gustafson Chair of Poetry.

“What are the essential characteristics of the wild? For one thing, it is coextensive with time: simultaneously ancient and brand new, stable and ever-changing. For another, it is the very essence of wealth: rich and varied and extensive and complex and intertwined with itself beyond your wildest dreams. Third, it’s astoundingly beautiful: delicate, fragile, adaptable, strong and immensely intelligent, attentive and responsive. The wild remembers its past and dreams its future and speaks its immediate present.”

Robert Bringhurst was born in 1947 in Los Angelese, California and was raised in a variety of places including Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Alberta, and British Columbia. He studied architecture, linguistics, and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as oriental languages and philosophy at the University of Utah. He holds a B.A. from Indiana University and a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.

Bringhurst has taught literature, art history, and history of typography at several universities and held fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He served as a Writer-in-Residence at several universities in North America and Europe.

For some years after teaching writing and literature at UBC, he made his living as a typographer. His book The Elements of Typographic Style, is now a standard text in his field.

His works in poetry and typography have been widely acclaimed, and in 2005, Bringhurst won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. Having lived in Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, France, Peru, Panama, and Japan, as well as in the UK, the USA, and Canada, he has become known internationally for his works of translation. Since 1985, his linguisting work has concentrated increasingly on Native American languages, specifically those of the British Columbian coast.



1972: The Shipwright’s LogKanchenjunga Press.
1973: Cadastre. Kanchenjunga Press.
1975: Eight Objects. Kanchenjunga Press.
1975: Bergschrund. Sono Nis Press.
1982: Tzuhalem’s Mountain.  Oolichan Books.
1972-82-1982: The Beauty of the Weapons: Selected Poems  (nominated for a Governor General’s Award), 1985. Copper Canyon Press.
1985: Tending the Fire. Alcuin Society.
1986: The Blue Roofs of JapanBarbarian Press.
1986, 1987: Pieces of Map, Pieces of MusicCopper Canyon Press.
1987: Conversations with a Toad. Gaspereau Press.
1970-1995: The Calling: Selected Poems. McClelland & Stewart.
1995: Elements (with drawings by Ulf Nilsen)
2001: The Book of Silences. Ninja Press.
2003: Ursa Major (shortlisted for the 2004 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize). Gaspereau Press.
2006: New World Suite Number Three: A poem in four movements for three voices
2009: Selected Poems. Gaspereau Press.



1983: Visions: Contemporary Art in Canada (with Geoffrey James, Russel Keziere & Doris Shadbolt). Douglas & McIntyre.
1984: Ocean/Paper/Stone. William Hoffer.
1984: The Raven Steals the Light (with Bill Reid). University of Washington Press.
1986: Shovels, Shoes and the Slow Rotation of Letters. Alcuin Society.
1991: The Black Canoe (with photographs by Ulli Steltzer). University of Washington Press.
1997: Boats Is Saintlier than Captains: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Morality, Language, and Design. Rhino Publishing.
1998: Native American Oral Literatures and the Unity of the Humanities. University of British Columbia.
1999: A Short History of the Printed Word (with Warren Chappell). Hartley & Marks.
1992, revised 1996, 2004, 2005 and 2008: The Elements of Typographic StyleHartley & Marks Publishers.
2004: The Solid Form Of Language: An Essay On Writing And Meaning. Gaspereau Press.
2006: The Tree of Meaning: Thirteen Lectures. Counterpoint Press.
2007: Everywhere Being is Dancing. Gaspereau Press.
2008: The Surface of Meaning: Books and Book Design in Canada. CCSP Press.