Kevin Connolly, poet, columnist, editor (Born at Biloxi, Mississippi, USA 20 March 1962). Raised in Maple, Ontario and primarily associated with Toronto, Kevin Connolly is a major contributor to the resurgence of surrealism in Canadian POETRY since the 1990s. His subjects are known to be broad, taking in everything from car travel to baseball to supermodels, and his points of reference are spread across the contemporary avant-garde, as well as narrative free-verse and extrapoetic modes like reportage, puzzles and games.
Early Collections and Journalistic Work
After graduating from YORK UNIVERSITY, Connolly's initial editorial effort came by co-founding, with playwright Jason SHERMAN, What! Magazine in 1985. What! published quarterly until 1993 and is remembered for introducing authors like Ken Sparling and Daniel Jones, for being published as a free paper with content similar to that of paid literary journals, and for fostering a proudly internationalist literary culture by pairing their local authors with voices from world literature.
Connolly's first collection came from Coach House Press in 1996, entitled Asphalt Cigar. It was noted for its absurdist sensibility and nominated for the GERALD LAMPERT MEMORIAL AWARD. Asphalt Cigar was followed by a period in which Connolly covered literature and culture for Toronto's eye weekly, and later by 2002's collection Happyland. During this period, Connolly's poetry was included in two anthologies that served to place him within his major peer groups. One was House of Anansi's Blues and True Concussions (Michael Redhill, ed.) in 1996, which brought together six new Toronto poets as diverse as Christian BOK, Connolly, and Laura Lush, and then 2004's Surreal Estate (The Mercury Press, ed. by Stuart Ross), which serves as the essential document for Canadian surrealist poetry of the post-war Generation.
Drift, Revolver, and Coach House Press
While Asphalt Cigar and Happyland won Connolly the respect of his surrealist and avant-garde peers, his collections with House of Anansi Press (2005's Drift and 2008's Revolver) extended that enthusiasm across the mainstream of Canadian poetry. Drift asserted Connolly's dark humour and absurdist juxtapositions onto the common visual detritus of contemporary life with its palette of strip malls, billboards and suburban sprawl. It won the 2005 TRILLIUM BOOK AWARD for Poetry.
Given Drift's willingness to move on all territories, from pathos to satire to whimsy, Connolly's decision, with his follow-up Revolver, to write a pointedly athematic poetry collection--45 poems with no recurrence of content or form--was simply an elevation of his trademark diversity. It also brought Connolly his widest critical acceptance, underlined by its inclusion in the Canadian shortlist for the 2009 GRIFFIN POETRY PRIZE. The Griffin judges' citation for Revolver affirmed the book's quest for true variation, comparing it with equal weight to "stand-up comedy" and "existential research."
During the time of Drift and Revolver Connolly returned to editing poetry: he was hired by Coach House Press to prepare their poetry titles for publication. His first efforts came out in 2005 and Connolly continued as the press's only poetry editor until he stepped down after the Fall 2012 publishing season. Books brought to market during his tenure included collections by Susan Holbrook, Jon Paul Fiorentino, David MCGIMPSEY, and Jeramy DODDS.