Gregory Scofield | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Gregory Scofield

Gregory Scofield, poet, playwright, teacher, social worker (b at Maple Ridge, BC 20 July 1966). A Métis of Cree, Scottish, English, French, and Jewish descent, Gregory Scofield was raised by his mother, an aunt, and in several foster homes in northern Manitoba, northern Saskatchewan, and the Yukon.

A former outreach worker dealing with street youth in Vancouver, Gregory Scofield has taught First Nations and Métis Literature at Brandon University and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and has served as writer-in-residence at Memorial University. Much of Scofield's writing is an examination of his own life and that of his Native heritage.

Gregory Scofield's skillful debut collection, The Gathering: Stones for the Medicine Wheel (1993), is emblematic of his poetry in that it incorporates Cree words and glossaries. Winner of the 1994 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, it was followed by an equally strong book, Native Canadiana: Songs from the Urban Rez (1996). Love Medicine and One Song (1997) is a collection of love poems and erotic verse. I Knew Two Métis Women (1999) celebrates the lives of his mother and aunt, and integrates songs by the Carter Family, Hank Snow, and other country-music artists.

Gregory Scofield's work relies heavily on his own experiences and those of his family. He published an autobiography, Thunder Through My Veins (1999), at age 33. The book provides an account in prose of many of his experiences - sexual abuse, poverty, racism - previously explored in his poetry. Some of this material appeared in revised form in his fifth collection of poems, Singing Home the Bones (2005), his most accomplished work. Written after the discovery that his father was Jewish, Scofield explores his ancestry through three sets of "conversations": with "the dead," "the missing," and "the living." The book provided the title for a 2006 documentary on Gregory Scofield, Singing Home the Bones: A Poet Becomes Himself.