Author Tags: First Nations, Poetry

Wendy Morton was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1970. She moved to Canada in 1970 and now lives in Sooke. She has worked as an insurance investigator for more than twenty years. As the coordinator of the Mocambopo reading series in Victoria, Morton became an influential figure in the landscape of B.C. poetry, releasing her second collection of poetry, Undercover (Ekstasis 2003), as a follow-up to Private Eye. As the founder of "Random Acts of Poetry," she has instigated unusual poetry promotion campaigns with Westjet Airlines, Daimler-Chrysler, Prairie Naturals Vitamins, Fairmont Hotels, Fujifil and AbeBooks.

Morton is host of Planet Earth Poetry in Victoria, a weekly poetry venue now in it's 13th year. She believes that poetry is the shortest distance between two hearts.


What Were Their Dreams? Valleys of Hope and Pain: Canada’s History (2009)

Gumshoe (Black Moss Press, 2007)

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast (Emdash Books, 2006)

Shadowcatcher (Ekstasis Editions, 2005)

Undercover (Ekstasis Editions, 2003) $19.95 1-894800-21-4

Private Eye (Ekstasis Editions, 2001)

[BCBW 2009] "Poetry"

Undercover (Ekstasis $14.95)

Wendy Morton plugs poetry—far and wide—and high.When she’s not promoting verse with her Mocambopo Reading Series in Victoria, the Sooke-based private investigator is WestJet’s ‘Poet of the Skies,’ serving up sonnets. During her promo tour for Undercover (Ekstasis $14.95), Morton took the microphone and recited poetry between Montreal and Halifax. Attention passengers. You are about to join the simile mile high club. But she didn’t stop there. Morton convinced eastern Canada’s Chrysler headquarters to lend her a PT Cruiser to drive around the Maritimes, reading poems to strangers and distributing free copies of her publisher’s various titles. She didn’t get arrested. 1-894800-21-4

[BCBW Summer 2004]

What Were Their Dreams? Valleys of Hope and Pain
Press Release (2009)

Wendy Morton’s fifth book of poetry, What Were Their Dreams? Valleys of Hope and Pain: Canada’s History began its life when she discovered, by chance, a Wrigley’s 1922 B.C. Directory at Value Village. In it were listed all the towns and cities, the residents’ names, and their occupations. Using the directory, she wrote a poem about Port Alberni and read it at a spoken word festival in Port Alberni. The director of the Alberni Valley Museum heard it and suggested she write poems for an upcoming exhibit celebrating the 150 year history of the valley.

Wendy looked at archival photos, read journals and created poems to be incorporated into photographs at the exhibit. She then interviewed 15 residents of the valley, including survivors of residential school. They told her their stories, brought their own photographs, and Wendy turned their stories into poems. These poems became a way for their voices to be heard. And their voices were sometimes filled with the pain of their memories. What they told her changed her: changed her understanding of the hard lives of the first European settlers who arrived in the middle of the 19th century; changed her understanding of the lives of the First Nations peoples, whose history on the west coast of Vancouver Island goes back 4000 years.

Spirit Bear Award
Press Release (2010)

Sooke poet Wendy Morton has been named the first recipient of The Spirit Bear Award. This biannual tribute, founded by Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier with support from the Victoria poetry community, recognizes the significance of a vital and enduring contribution to the poetry of the West Coast.

Morton, a resident of Vancouver Island, was honoured at a surprise gala presentation in Victoria, on Friday, 16 April. Lucinda Chodan, Editor-in-Chief of The Victoria Times-Colonist, poet and novelist Patrick Lane and poet and memoirist Lorna Crozier each spoke of Morton’s extensive support of poetry and poets during the celebration. She was presented with a carved Spirit Bear Box made by Sooke artist John Mugford. A very surprised Morton then spoke of her work with First Nations peoples, helping both children and adults tell their stories in poetry.

Wendy Morton, the author of four books of poetry and a memoir, also created Planet Earth Poetry, the popular Victoria reading series now in its second decade. Morton was instrumental in founding Victoria’s Poet Laureate position as well as Random Acts of Poetry, an annual event across Canada and now in the United Kingdom that has seen poets reading in schools, shopping malls, hotel lobbies, municipal offices, and taxi cabs. She has been Westjet’s Poet of the Skies and has taught poetry at the Victoria READ Society and in public schools across Canada. For the past fifteen years she has managed the annual Master Poetry classes at The Juan de Fuca poetry retreats. "Poetry is the shortest distance between two hearts," said the passionate literary leader.

Patrick Lane called her a literary treasure and a dynamic force in the literature of this country. “I can think of no one who has so dedicated her life to this island’s literary community. In doing so she has raised the awareness of people, helping them discover their own stories and songs through the art of the poem. A passionate advocate for poetry and the richness it brings to people’s lives, she is most deserving of this inaugural community award.”