Margaret  Christakos

Photo: Margaret Christakos
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Margaret Christakos is a poet and fiction writer living in Toronto whose work has shown consistent interest in recombinant poetics, process writing and seriality. Themes and interests over the years have often circulated in the terrain of sexuality, gender, subjectivity and the internal polyphony of narrative voice. She has published seven collections of poetry and one novel, and has given readings and seminars from her work across Canada since 1989. Her most recent collection is called What Stirs, published by Coach House Books in fall 2008. The work explores the lyric's capacity for arousal, maternal domesticity's wide-ranging gaze, and compositional strategies to both invoke and rupture the reader's identification with "human feeling" in the digital era.

Her 2002 book Excessive Love Prostheses, "takes the confessional lyric poem and runs it through Kathy Acker's Cuisinart." It was awarded the 2003 ReLit Award for Poetry. ARC Magazine wrote of her 2005 collection Sooner: "So much to praise here: the writing is rich with fresh, startling urban imagery; the shifts of register and tone keep the reader on his or her toes; the handling of the disjunctive narrative/lyric line keep the poems kinetic yet filled with tension, restless, questing."  - Arc: Canada's National Poetry Magazine

In addition over the past several years Christakos has published four or five eclectic chapbooks with excellent small and micro presses, and produced a multi-media polyphonic performance work entitled "Orphans Fan the Flames." She has engaged in a couple of other exciting collaborations, one bringing her poetry into conversation with the choreographer Jennifer Dallas, and one with filmmaker Shona MacDonald; the short film Girls! Girls! Girls! can be accessed through the CFMDC and/or LIFT. These interdisciplinary directions offer a glimpse of possible future activities.

Christakos has worked as a literary educator in various contexts over the years. In 2004-05, she was Canada Council Writer in Residence with the English Department at the University of Windsor. From 1992 until 1997, Christakos taught creative writing at the Ontario College of Art and Design. From 2006 to 2008 she worked online with high school students with www.wier.ca, Writers in Electronic Residence (WIER), as a poetry instructor within the English Department at Glendon College (York University) and with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing Program, where she teaches creative writing, poetry and facilitates the innovative lecture/reading series "Influency: A Toronto Poetry Salon." Each ten-week salon brings eight diverse poets forward twice, to guest as both poet and as peer-critic of one of the other participating poets.

Christakos has a long relationship with designing and curating literary events in Toronto, trying to build community and engage new audiences in diverse poetics and poets. As Toronto representative for the League of Canadian Poets from 2000 to 2002, she organized the daylong poetry festival Poetry College, bringing together numerous poets in restaurants along Toronto's College Street restaurant strip. In 2003-2004, she was the founding coordinator of the Readers & Writers program at PEN Canada, where she worked to build infrastructure and public programs in collaboration with universities, libraries and community organizations in service of the needs of international writers exiled in Canada for political reasons.

For about ten years, Margaret worked as a substantive and production editor for many freelance clients including Public, YYZ, AGO and Women's Press. Over more recent years she has begun to seek out poetry and fiction manuscript editing engagements.

About her 2000 book Wipe Under A Love, the Journal of Canadian Poetry wrote,"[Christakos's] poems frisk, truncate, evaporate and return...These poems are something else." Her debut novel Charisma was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award in 2001, and her poem "Pumpkins, for Claire" received the Bliss Carman Poetry Award that same year. She has completed but not placed a second novel, mostly about extremes of mothering and hierarchies of female authority, and has been working on a third, mostly about sexual and emotional detachment, celibacy and inertia in a culture of overt narcissism and hypersexuality.

An experienced teacher, Christakos's approach in a workshop setting is to charge new writers with the excitement of merging, layering and firing various stylistic and sensory pleasures through language, inviting both story and interest in how story is rarely enough for poetry's capacious channels.

Christakos was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario. She lives in Toronto with her partner and their three children. For 15 years she has been intensely and intimately engaged in parenting and community building, and drawing experimental poetics into the gaze and grasp of readers who don't necessarily think of themselves as belonging to literary culture.

Works Online

    Books

  • Not Egypt [The entire text of my first book Not Egypt (1989) is online]

Created: Saturday, May 31, 2008 Updated: Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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