In Memoriam: Douglas Barbour (1940-2021)

Sep 27, 2021

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of NeWest Press’s president, editor, and founding member Douglas Barbour. It was Doug’s original donation of $500 in 1978 that made it possible to get NeWest Press off the ground. His generosity toward the press took different forms over the years, from keeping our non-profit organization afloat through lean times to translating his passion for the written word and Canadian literature into inspiring editing of dozens of NeWest books.

The author of many poetry titles, Doug was known for minimalism and precision, for creating an equivalence between a poet’s words and what his eyes see, but also for his love of the rhythms of jazz music. Praised for his performances as a member of the sound poetry ensemble Re: Sounding, he read his poetry and presented his critical work across Canada and internationally. A passionate art and book collector, he was a faithful and generous friend, and a supportive and motivating mentor to many of the students he taught as a member of the Department of English at the University of Alberta. As a scholar, his numerous reviews and essays on Canadian literature, especially poetry, appeared in a large range of journals and anthologies, both in Canada and overseas.

Doug was one of the first Canadian critics to work on science fiction and fantasy, and his many contributions to this field over the years were recently recognized by the Book Publishers’ Association of Alberta which announced that the Speculative Fiction Award will be henceforth renamed as the Douglas Barbour Award for Speculative Fiction, a fitting tribute to a man who did so much for the writing community here in Alberta, as well as the rest of the country.

We miss him as a colleague, mentor, and friend.