Christakos, Margaret

Margaret Christakos, poet, novelist, editor, teacher (b at Sudbury, Ontario 1962). Margaret Christakos is an award winning, internationally recognized experimental writer who works in both poetry and prose. Her poetic writing consistently works to unsettle accepted patterns of behaviour and consciousness by playfully and earnestly fragmenting conventional language. Her poems use various formalist procedures (including recombinant constraints, puns, allusions and digressions) to test and explore the expression and formation of voice and identity. Her intense analysis of the consequences and constraints of gender in particular extends into her prose writing. This body of work, unlike the poetry, is more linear and, while still experimental and disjunctive, is more structured by plot and narrative. Christakos' experimental writing merges with her work as an editor and as a teacher, where in both capacities she has worked hard to expand the opportunities available to experimental writers in Canada and to make audiences more receptive to experimental Canadian writing.

Margaret Christakos was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario. She completed a BFA in Visual Arts at YORK UNIVERSITY (1985) and an MA in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO (1995). She has taught at ONTARIO COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN (1992-1997), York University (2006), and the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Education where she conducts her acclaimed "Influency" poetry salon (2007-2010). She was Writer in Residence with the UNIVERSITY OF WINDSOR (2004-2005) and with the Writers in Electronic Residence (2006-2007). She edited MIX: The Magazine of Artist-Run Culture (1994-1996), has worked as the Coordinator of PEN Canada's Readers & Writers program (2003-2004), and organized the literary festival Poetry College (2002). Christakos has also worked for the LEAGUE OF CANADIAN POETS and served in various capacities for numerous small press literary magazines, including as an editor at Fuse Magazine, Women's Education des femmes, and Fireweed.

Margaret Christakos' seven books of poetry, and numerous chapbooks and small press ephemera, have been championed for their interrogation of lyrical form. The poems explore themes common to conventional lyric poetry - love, sexuality, motherhood, geography and environment - but do so in a way that breaks the common assumptions and associations of how these ideas are represented in the mind and in language. From her first book, Not Egypt (1989) to her eighth and most recent work What Stirs (2008), Christakos breaks the stability of her poetic speaker with disjunctive shifts in tone, topic and aesthetic technique. Her technical prowess and range serve to highlight a postmodern embrace of multiplicity over illusions of unity, and, in this regard, her writing has been connected and compared to the tradition of women's writing in Canada pioneered by the likes of Nicole BROSSARD and Daphne MARLATT.

She received the Bliss Carman Poetry Award in 2001 for her poem "Pumpkins, for Claire." Her book Excessive Love Prostheses (2002) won the ReLit Award for Poetry (2003), while her sixth book of poetry Sooner (2005) was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. In 2000 Christakos published her first novel, Charisma (2000), which was shortlisted for Ontario's Trillium Book Award (2001).