Early Life and Teaching Career
A third-generation Japanese Canadian, Roy Miki was born in Winnipeg and attended the universities of Manitoba and British Columbia, as well as Simon Fraser University, where he worked as a professor in the Department of English until his retirement. He is a professor emeritus and a resident of Vancouver.
Miki is well-known in Canadian literary circles for his poetry, criticism and editorial work. His 2001 book of poetry, Surrender, won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry. His other volumes of poetry are Saving Face: Poems Selected 1976–1988 (1991), Random Access File (1995), There (2006) and Mannequin Rising (2011). His poetry experimentally examines questions of identity, race, citizenship and place. Critically, Miki is the author of the influential study Broken Entries: Race, Subjectivity, Writing (1998), which examines the three terms in its subtitle in a Canadian context. He is also the author of the critical works In Flux: Transnational Shifts in Asian Canadian Writing (2011), The Prepoetics of William Carlos Williams (1983), and an annotated bibliography of the poet and novelist George Bowering (1990).
As an editor, Miki founded the journal (see Literary Periodicals) Line in 1983, which merged with West Coast Review in 1990 to create the critical-literary journal West Coast Line. Miki has co-edited a critical book on bpNichol as well as Muriel Kitigawa's This Is My Own: Letters to Wes and Other Writings on Japanese Canadians (1985), Pacific Windows: Collected Poems of Roy K. Kiyooka (1997), Meanwhile: The Critical Writings of bpNichol (2002), and, with Smaro Kamboureli, the book Trans.Can.Lit: Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature (2007).
In his activist work, Miki is noted as a strong advocate for those who face racial inequities (see Racism). He was heavily involved in the Redress movement, which sought equity for Japanese Canadians who were forcibly uprooted from the West Coast during the Second World War. (See Internment of Japanese Canadians.) Miki's book, in collaboration with Cassandra Kobayashi, Justice in Our Time: The Japanese Canadian Redress Settlement (1991), documents this successful movement.
Miki was also an organizer of the controversial conference Writing Thru Race (1994), held in Vancouver. This conference's decision to offer a space for writers of colour and Indigenous writers to discuss common issues without the presence of white writers prompted criticism from some. In all of his work, Miki continues to be an advocate for equity, particularly for racialized Canadians.