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Andrew Suknaski fonds
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- Textual record
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Dates of creation area
1949-1998, predominant 1977-1992 (Creation)
- Suknaski, Andrew
Physical description area
9.6 m of textual records (32 boxes)
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Name of creator
Poet and visual artist, Andrew Suknaski, was born on a homestead near Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan on July 30, 1942, to parents Julia (Karasinski) and Andrew Suknaski, Sr. To develop his interest in visual arts, Suknaski studied at the Kootenay School of Art in Nelson, British Columbia, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' School of Art and Design, receiving a diploma of Fine Arts from the Kootenay School in 1967. He also attended the University of Victoria, Notre Dame University in Nelson, B.C., the University of British Columbia, and Simon Fraser University.
For a time, he worked as a seasonal worker across Canada, including being a farmhand and a night watchman. He wrote during his travels. He was editor for Anak Press and Deodar Shadow Press, among others. In 1969, he founded the underground magazine Elfin Plot in Vancouver and created concrete poems, exhibiting at the Expo in Buenos Aires in 1971. From 1977 to 1978, Suknaski was writer-in-residence at St. John’s College, University of Manitoba. Among his early works published in chapbooks, pamphlets and Al Purdy’s anthology, Storm Warning (1971), was the notable On First Looking Down From Lions Gate Bridge (1976). Suknaski’s first collection was Wood Mountain Poems (1976), edited by Al Purdy, followed by The Ghosts Call You Poor (1978) and In The Name of Narid (1981). Ghosts won Suknaski the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award in 1979. Octomi (1976) and East of Myloona (1979) were published as small chapbooks. Montage for an Interstellar Cry (1982) and Silk Trail (1985) were the first and third parts respectively of a larger work that was to be called Celestial Mechanics. Suknaski’s poems have appeared in such anthologies as Number One Northern (1977) and Studio One: Stories Made for Radio (1990).
Sukanski also worked as a researcher for the National Film Board, contributing to such films as Grain Elevator (1981) by Charles Konowal and The Distinherited (1985) by Harvey Spak. Spak made a documentary of Suknaski in 1978 entitled Wood Mountain Poems, considered by Steven Scobie in The Land They Gave Away to be “the best critical statement we have on the poet’s life and work.” Suknaski’s Polish and Ukrainian heritage, his concern for First Nations, and the people and place of Wood Mountain feature strongly in his realist poetry.
Suknaski passed away in Moose Jaw on May 3, 2012.
Scope and content
In 1987, having wearied of transporting his personal papers during his frequent moves, Suknaski burned twenty years of records in a bonfire in his backyard. What remains of his papers encompasses the years 1977-1992. The collection comprises 15 linear feet. There are drafts of many of his published works as well as correspondence with literary figures like Eli Mandel, John Newlove, Robert Kroetsch and Kristjana Gunnars. The fond contains many unpublished poems and several drafts of the films that Suknaski worked on for the National Film Board and CBC. Perhaps the most valuable portion of the collection are the unpublished manuscripts that Suknaski worked on during the 1980s, including Divining the West, Ussuri Line and In Search of Parinti/History of the Roumanians in Western Canada.
Immediate source of acquisition
This collection is organized into 14 series
Biographical Information, 1953-1992
General Correspondence, 1977-1998
In Depth Correspondence, 1949-1992
Diaries & Notebooks, 1975-1992
Published Manuscripts, 1971-1985
Unpublished Manuscripts, 1971-1990
Published Poems, 1968-1988
Interviews, Conference Papers & Book Reviews, [ca. 1980]-1983
Unpublished Poetry & Early Drafts of Unpublished Works, 1973-1990
Thoughts, Concepts & Ideas, 1964-1991
Journals Edited or Contributed To, 1969-[ca. 1990]
Miscellaneous Material, [ca. 1968]-[ca. 1990]
Oversized Material, 1967-1987
The Suknaski fonds arrived at the University of Manitoba in very poor condition. The task of putting it into some semblance of order was daunting. The material was separated into correspondence, published material & unpublished material.
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A finding aid can be downloaded by clicking on the “Download’ link under “Finding Aid” on the right hand side of the screen.
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Finding aid created by Lewis St. George Stubbs (August 1998). Encoded by Julianna Trivers (June 2002).
Revision History: July 26, 2005 - MSS 125 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
Revised by N. Courrier (October 2019).