A Canadian writer of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, Simpson has published ten books, of which four have been included in the Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of the Year.
She is the author of five books of poetry: Strange Attractor (2019); Is (2011); Quick (2007), winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award; Loop (2003), winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize; and Light Falls Through You (2000), winner of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Prize and the Atlantic Poetry Prize.
She has also written three novels, Speechless (2020); Falling (2008); longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and winner of the Dartmouth Award for Fiction; and Canterbury Beach (2001). Her first book of essays, The Marram Grass: Poetry and Otherness (2009), delves into issues of poetry, art, and empathy. Her second essay collection, Experiments in Distant Influence, looks at illness and death, alongside interconnections between human and non-human communities.
After studying at Queen’s University and the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University), she lived in France, where she worked in a L’Arche residence, and in Italy, where she studied art. For two years, she lived in Nigeria, where she volunteered as an English teacher with CUSO. She continued her work in adult literacy in Kingston, Ontario, founding a program for adults through a school board. Now she lives in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where she started the Writing Centre at StFX University.
She has been a writer-in-residence at libraries and universities across Canada. Recently, she was invited to do a short residency with the OSU Children’s Libraries in Ghana, West Africa.
- Longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Falling.
- Winner of the Dartmouth Fiction Award for Falling.
- Winner of the Pat Lowther Poetry Award for Quick.
- Finalist for the 2008 Atlantic Poetry Prize for Quick.
- Winner of the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize for Loop.
- Finalist for the 2003 Governor-General’s Award, Poetry, for Loop.
- Finalist for the 2002 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award.
- Winner of the 2001 Atlantic Poetry Prize for Light Falls Through You.
- Winner of the 2001 Gerald Lampert Award for Light Falls Through You.
- Finalist for the 2001 Pat Lowther Award for Light Falls Through You.
- Finalist for the Chapters /Robertson Davies First Novel Award (unpublished novel manuscript), 1999
- Winner of the 1999 Bliss Carman Poetry Award.
- Co-Winner of the 1997 Journey Prize.
- Writer-in-Residence, Green College, University of British Columbia • Fall, 2017
- Writer-in-Residence, McLoughlin Gardens Residency, Courtenay, BC • Spring, 2016
- Writer-in-Residence, McMaster University/Hamilton Public Library • Fall + Winter, 2013-2014
- Writer-in-Residence, Osu Children’s Libraries, Accra & Goi, Ghana • Fall, 2012
- Writer-in-Residence, Memorial University, St. John’s, NL • Fall, 2011
- Writer-in-Residence, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS • Winter, 2011
- Writer-in-Residence (Short-Term), UPEI, Charlottetown • Sept 2010
- Writer-in-Residence, Saskatoon Public Library, Saskatoon, SK • 2009-2010
- Faculty Member, Sage Hill Advanced Poetry Colloquium, Lumsden, SK • May, 2009
- Faculty Member (Poetry), The Banff Centre, AB (Writing Studio) • May, 2006
- Writer-in-Residence, Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library • 2005-2006
- Coordinator for the Great Blue Writing Workshop, 2004-2010
- Writer-in-Residence, University of New Brunswick • 2002-2003
I thought of you when I was asked to be in the east coast this fall. How are you? it was nice meeting you this spring in Cumberland. I will be in Halifax and Wolfville in October but I see that Antigonish is still a distance away. I had a thought of having a cup of tea or something with you, but that’s probably not possible. But thought I would let you know you are thought of! And I hope you are well. Best, Cornelia Hoogland
I recently met Heidi Garnet at a Patrick Lane workshop. When I read Heidi’s book Blood Orange, I saw your name on the back flap. When I read your bio – I saw that you taught English in Nigeria. I taught at an Advanced Teachers’ College in Borno State back in 1980/81. Right now I am in the process of writing some poetry about those years. I was wondering if you have written about your experiences in Nigeria ? Would love to hear from you.