Janice Kulyk Keefer

Janice Kulyk Keefer, writer, poet, critic (born at Toronto, ON, 2 Jun 1952).

Janice Kulyk Keefer

Janice Kulyk Keefer, writer, poet, critic (born at Toronto, ON, 2 Jun 1952). Born Janice Kulyk in Toronto, Canada, Keefer is the author of over a dozen works of poetry, prose and literary criticism and has been short-listed for a GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD twice: for Under Eastern Eyes (1987), her study of Canadian fiction from the Maritimes, in the non-fiction category; and for her novel The Green Library (1996), in the fiction category. In 1999 she received the Marian ENGEL Award for a female Canadian writer in mid-career.

Interested in literature and the power of metaphor and language, Janice Kulyk Keefer studied English literature, receiving her BA from the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO. She completed her M.Phil and D.Phil in from the University of Sussex. She was an assistant professor in the Department of English Studies at the UNIVERSITÉ SAINTE-ANNE in Pointe-de-l'Église, Nova Scotia, then a visiting research fellow in the School of English at the University of Sussex in Brighton, and then became an English professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH in Guelph, Ontario.

A specialist in Modernist literature, Keefer completed graduate theses on Virginia Woolf and Joseph Conrad, and her novel Thieves (2004) offers a fictional look into the life of Katherine Mansfield. She has also written on Canadian literature, with two academic books on the subject, Under Eastern Eyes (1987) and Reading MavisGALLANT (1989).

In the last decade of the twentieth century Keefer returned critically and creatively to her UKRAINIAN Canadian heritage, publishing both books and articles addressing Ukrainian Canadian ethnicity. Keefer's father was born in rural Ontario to Ukrainian émigré parents in 1914, and her mother immigrated to Canada, from Western Ukraine to Toronto, in 1936. Among her publications that explore Ukrainian and Ukrainian Canadian themes (SeeUKRAINIAN WRITING) are a novel featuring a Canadian protagonist learning about her Ukrainian heritage, The Green Library (1996); a family memoir, Honey and Ashes (1998); a book-length creative reflection on Ukrainian-ness in Canada, Dark Ghost in the Corner: Imagining Ukrainian-Canadian Identity (2005); a series of linked short stories operating as a novel, The Ladies Lending Library (2007); and Foreign Relations (2010), a volume of poetry produced in collaboration with painter Natalka Husar, and a pendant to the latter's book of paintings, Burden of Innocence. Keefer was awarded the Kobzar Literary Award for The Ladies Lending Library in 2008.

In her works that address ethnicity, specifically Ukrainian Canadian ethnicity, Keefer rejects overly simplified notions of MULTICULTURALISM and instead proposes a kind of transnationalism that engages with the history, culture, and politics of contemporary Ukraine. Put simply, she suggests that for her, being Ukrainian Canadian means knowing something about Ukraine itself, not just about Ukrainian folk dances or traditional foods.

Janice Kulyk Keefer has an impressive literary career behind her, and she continues to write poetry, prose and academic pieces.

Further Reading

  • Deborah Saidero, ed. Janice Kulyk Keefer: Essays on Her Works (2010).