Swift had already established himself as an outstanding and original
spoken-word performer by the time he graduated from Concordia in 1993.
He went on to live in Hungary for several years and now lives in Paris.
Poets have always been transplants think of James Joyce living
in Trieste and Robert Louis Stevenson in the Pacific islands but
the Internet makes a worldwide literary career easier still.
Now Swift and Val Stevenson, of Nthposition.com, have launched 100 Poets
Against the War, an electronic blast at Bush and Blair and others who
would attack Iraq. The project started Jan. 20 Swift is nothing
if not precise by Nthposition.com, and has attracted poets and
peace activists from around the world, though mainly the English-speaking
world. The anthology is presented online at http://www.nthposition.com
as a PDF file.
Among the contributors are George Bowering, Canadas first and current
poet laureate, Charles Berstein, Michael Redhill, Sinead Morrissey, Sarah
Maguire and Ruth Fainlight.
As a student, Swift didnt excel, he admits. I dropped out
for a few years, then was part-time for several years. I graduated with
a double major in English and creative writing, but along the way, I was
enrolled in political science, too.
Swift is obviously thrilled to be in Paris, visiting his fiancée.
Her job chose it for us, but I am naturally not likely to complain.
It is, of course, where my hero Ezra Pound made his mark, discovering
T.S. Eliot and Joyce.
Theres a newly revived renaissance of English/American expat
writing again, so its a good time to be here, after the fairly moribund
80s and 90s. Having distance from North America, especially
at a time of political crisis, is fascinating. Europeans really do have
a different perspective on the world and news. I am becoming sympathetic
to that view.
Basically, he continued, I have always believed that poets matter, that struggling poets should be encouraged, and that poetry must be truly global in scope and outlook. I believe that my activities as an agent for poetry promotion, and all my other work as writer and performer, have established me as one of the leading literary figures of my generation (the under-40s), and I am very proud of that role. I want to inspire the next generation of writers to continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be a Canadian poet in the 21st century.