John Donlan was raised in Baysville, a hamlet of 200 people in Ontario’s Muskoka district on the Canadian Shield. His father worked with teams of horses hauling logs in the bush; neighbours raised skunks, crows, and porcupines as domestic pets (a neighbour’s crow, named for his father, stole clothespins from the wash to tease his mother).

Surrounded by some of Canada’s most beautiful wilderness (celebrated in the paintings of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven), the poet developed a deep sense of belonging in the natural world.

He is a poetry editor with Brick Books.

He was the 2012 Barbara Moon Editorial Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto, and Writer in Residence at Saskatoon Public Library and Campbell River.

John Donlan’s poems and reviews have appeared in leading journals in Canada, the United States, and Iran.

Additionally, he has given readings and conducted writing workshops in schools, libraries, universities, and art galleries throughout Canada and the United States while his books of poetry – Domestic Economy, Baysville, Green Man, and Spirit Engine – are available either from the author or the works’ respective publishers; they can also be found in fine bookstores across the continent.


  • Domestic Economy, Brick Books, 1990; reprinted 1997, 58 pp.
  • Baysville, House of Anansi, 1993, 63 pp.
  • Green Man, Ronsdale Press, 1999, 82 pp.
  • Spirit Engine, Brick Books, 2008, 80 pp.
  • Call Me the Breeze, North Vancouver: Alfred Gustav Press, 2013.


  • CommuterLit Selections Fall 2013: a month of reading for your transit commute. (Toronto: CommuterLit, 2013.)
  • That Not Forgotten. (Kingston: Hidden Brook Press, 2012.)
  • Poet to Poet: poems written to poets and the stories that inspired them. (Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2012)
  • The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2009 (Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2009)
  • A Verse Map of Vancouver (George McWhirter, ed. Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2009)
  • How the Light Gets In: anthology of poetry from Canada (John Ennis, ed. Waterford, Ireland: Waterford Institute of Technology, 2009)
  • Open Wide a Wilderness: Canadian nature poems (Nancy Holmes, ed. Wilfred Laurier Press, 2009)
  • radiant danse uv being: a poetic portrait of bill bissett (Roberts Creek, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2006)
  • Great Lakes Logia (Broken Jaw Press, 2001)
  • Why I Sing The Blues (Smoking Lung Press, 2001); New Canadian Poetry (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2000)
  • New Life in Dark Seas: Brick Books 25 (Brick Books, 2000)
  • Riprap: Fiction and Poetry from the Banff Centre for the Arts (Banff Centre Press, 1999)
  • Windhorse Reader: Choice Poems of ’93 (Samurai Press, 1994)
  • Vintage 92: Prize-Winning Poems from the League of Canadian Poets (Sono Nis, 1993)
  • Images 88 (London Public Libraries and Museums, 1988)
  • Summer Images 1984: An Anthology of London Authors (London Public Libraries and Museums, 1985)


John Donlan’s poetry and critical writings have appeared in leading journals including The Antigonish Review, Border/Lines, Caliban, Canadian Literature, The Canadian Forum, The Capilano Review, CV2, Dandelion, Event, The Fiddlehead, Grain, The Literary Review of Canada, The Malahat Review, New American Writing, The New Quarterly, Poetry Canada, Prism International, Quarry, Rampike, She’r (in Persian translation), Sideshow, This Magazine, The Toronto Star, Wayne Literary Review, What!, and The Word Enamel.