The Passing of Douglas Barbour

We are sad to announce the passing of Douglas Barbour (1940-2021). A long time reviewer, poet, and author for CanLit, Douglas was also the president, editor, and founding member of NeWest Press. (photo credit: NeWest Publishing,


One of Douglas’ earlier pieces for our journal was “Poet as Philosopher,” an article published in issue 53, Of Heavenly Hounds and Earthly Men, from 1972. This article looks at Louis Dudek’s legacy and poetry in 1940s Canada.


In 1979, Douglas published his first CanLit poem, “Cezanne’s Last Years,” in issue 83.

An accomplished poet, Douglas would go on to publish a total of 6 original poems in Canadian Literature between 1979 and 1984. However, his first work with the journal was in reviewing; Douglas reviewed over 80 books for CanLit between 1968 and 2014. And in 1985, he wrote an Opinions and Notes piece celebrating the life of F. R. Scott (1899-1985) in issue 105.


In many cases, reviews of his poetry and writing also graced the pages of CanLit. Jan Lermitte reviewed Listen. If, a “noticeably more experimental and playful” book of poems, “poems that need to be read aloud.” We’ve also reviewed continuations 2, Along a Snake Fence Riding, Lyric/Anti-Lyric: Essays on Contemporary Poetry, Michael Ondaatje, Beyond Tish, Story for a Saskatchewan Night, and many more. You can find them all and more under Douglas’ author page.


No doubt Douglas was passionate about Canadian literature, as both an author and a champion of its importance in a global literary marketplace. We are grateful for his many years writing for the journal. He will be missed.