I got an email from Dana Bath last night, telling me that Montreal poet Robert Allen died on Friday, after a long battle with cancer, surrounded by friends and family at his home in Ayer's Cliff, Quebec. A poet [see my review of his Ricky Ricardo Suites here], fiction writer, teacher, mentor, editor and publisher, Allen taught in the creative writing program at Concordia University, was responsible for many years for Matrix magazine, and, with Jon Paul Fiorentino, had been an editor for DC Books, and more recently, had started up Snare Books, as an imprint of the magazine. Starting to publish books in the 1970s, Allen was the author of numerous books of fiction and poetry, as both author and editor, and his long poem, The Encantadas, published in sections throughout various of his poetry collections, finally appeared as a whole through Andy Brown's Conundrum Press earlier this year.
Every time I saw him he was smiling. He was a good guy, and will be missed by a whole bunch of people, writers, students and otherwise. Here's the email I got from Simon Dardick this morning, publisher of Vehicule Press:
Poet and novelist Robert Allen 1946-2006
Vehicule Press mourns the loss of poet, novelist, colleague, and friend Robert Allen who died in Sherbrooke, Quebec on Friday, November 3.
As a professor in the Creative Writing department of Concordia University he had a lasting influence on hundreds students over the years--many of whom became writers. As the editor of Matrix magazine he opened its pages to the innovative work of a new generation of writers and illustrators. His 15 published works included poetry, short stories, and three novels.
Vehicule Press is proud to have published Magellan's Clouds: Poems 1971-1986 (1987) and Standing Wave (2005), both part of its Signal Editions poetry series. Standing Wave reflected themes familiar to Robert Allen's poetry and novels: the slow rusts and wild incandescences of memory; the myths and delusions sustaining our lives; and the uneasy duo of body and mind. His latest book, The Encantadas, published this year by Conundrum Press, collects together in one volume, his important long poem of the same name.
Robert Allen was born in England in 1946 and came to Canada as a ten-year-old. He attended the University of Toronto and Cornell University and taught at Kenyon College (Ohio), Champlain College (Lennoxville, Qc), and Concordia University since 1982.
Simon Dardick & Nancy Marrelli, publishers
Todd Swift's obit and previous note on Robert Allen; Fiorentino's obit; a poem for Robert Allen by David Solway; BookNinja link to Dardick's release; Golda Fried has already written a piece, and Simon Dardick says there are others in the works, including one by Steve Luxton; there will be a group of tributes to appear in the Montreal Gazette in a few days.