Biography of Michael Ondaatje
Philip Michael Ondaatje (born September 12, 1943), is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian novelist and poet. He won the Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient, which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film.
Ondaatje was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1943 and moved to England in 1954. He attended Dulwich College. After relocating to Canada in 1962, Ondaatje became a Canadian citizen. He studied for a time at Bishop's College School and Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec, but moved to Toronto, where he received his BA from the University of Toronto and his MA from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. He then began teaching at the University of Western Ontario in London. In 1970, he settled in Toronto and, from 1971 to 1990, taught English literature at York University and Glendon College.
Ondaatje's work includes fiction, autobiography, poetry and film. He has published 13 books of poetry, and won the Governor General's Award for The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970) and There's a Trick With a Knife I'm Learning to Do: Poems 1973-1978 (1979). Anil's Ghost was the winner of the 2000 Giller Prize, the Prix Médicis, the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, the 2001 Irish Times International Fiction Prize and Canada's Governor General's Award. The English Patient won the Booker Prize, the Canada Australia Prize, and the Governor General's Award and was later made into a motion picture, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. In the Skin of a Lion, a fictional story about early immigrant settlers in Toronto, was the winner of the 1988 City of Toronto Book Award, finalist for the 1987 Ritz Paris Hemingway Award for best novel of the year in English, and winner of the first Canada Reads competition in 2002. Coming Through Slaughter, is a fictional story of New Orleans, Louisiana circa 1900 loosely based on the lives of jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden and photographer E. J. Bellocq. It was the winner of the 1976 Books in Canada First Novel Award. Divisadero won the 2007 Governor General's Award. Running in the Family (1982) is a semi-fictional memoir of his Sri Lankan childhood.
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Coming Through Slaughter and Divisadero have been adapted for the stage and produced in theatrical productions across North America and Europe. Ondaatje's three films include a documentary on fellow poet B.P. Nichol, Sons of Captain Poetry, and The Clinton Special: A Film About The Farm Show, which chronicles a collaborative theatre experience led in 1971 by Paul Thompson of Theatre Passe Muraille. In 2002, Ondaatje published a non-fiction book, The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, which won special recognition at the 2003 American Cinema Editors Awards, as well as a Kraszna-Krausz Book Award for best book of the year on the moving image.
Michael Ondaatje's Works:
1976: Coming Through Slaughter (also see "Other" section, 1980, below), Toronto: Anansi; New York: W. W. Norton, 1977
1987: In the Skin of a Lion, New York: Knopf
1992: The English Patient, New York: Knopf
2000: Anil's Ghost, New York: Knopf
2011: The Cat's Table
1962: Social Call, The Love Story, In Search of Happiness, all featured in The Mitre: Lennoxville: Bishop University Press
1967: The Dainty Monsters, Toronto: Coach House Press
1969: The Man with Seven Toes, Toronto: Coach House Press
1970: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-handed Poems (also see "Other" section, 1973, below), Toronto: Anansi; New York: Berkeley, 1975
1973: Rat Jelly, Toronto: Coach House Press
1978: Elimination Dance/La danse eliminatoire, Ilderton: Nairn Coldstream; revised edition, Brick, 1980
1979: There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do: Poems, 1963-1978, New York: W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1979
published as Rat Jelly, and Other Poems, 1963-1978, London, United Kingdom: Marion Boyars, 1980
1984: Secular Love, Toronto: Coach House Press; New York: W. W. Norton, 1985
1986: All along the Mazinaw: Two Poems (broadside), Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Woodland Pattern
1986: Two Poems, Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1989: The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems, London, United Kingdom: Pan; New York: Knopf, 1991
1998: Handwriting, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart; New York: Knopf, 1999
2006: The Story, Toronto: House of Anansi
1971: The Broken Ark, animal verse; Ottawa: Oberon; revised as A Book of Beasts, 1979
1977: Personal Fictions: Stories by Munro, Wiebe, Thomas, and Blaise, Toronto: Oxford University Press
1979: A Book of Beasts, animal verse; Ottawa: Oberon; revision of The Broken Ark, 1971
1979: The Long Poem Anthology, Toronto: Coach House
1989: With Russell Banks and David Young, Brushes with Greatness: An Anthology of Chance Encounters with Greatness, Toronto: Coach House, 1989
1989: Edited with Linda Spalding, The Brick Anthology, illustrated by David Bolduc, Toronto: Coach House Press
1990: From Ink Lake: An Anthology of Canadian Short Stories; New York: Viking
1990: The Faber Book of Contemporary Canadian Short Stories; London, United Kingdom: Faber
2000: Edited with Michael Redhill, Esta Spalding and Linda Spalding, Lost Classics, Toronto: Knopf Canada
2002: Edited and wrote introduction, Mavis Gallant, Paris Stories, New York: New York Review Books
1970: Leonard Cohen (literary criticism), Toronto: McClelland & Stewart
1973: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (play; based on his poetry; see "Poetry" section, 1970, above), produced in Stratford, Ontario; produced in New York, 1974; produced in London, England, 1984
1979: Claude Glass (literary criticism), Toronto: Coach House Press
1980: Coming through Slaughter (play based on his novel; see "Novels" section, 1976, above), first produced in Toronto
1982: Running in the Family, memoir, New York: W. W. Norton,
1982: Tin Roof, British Columbia, Canada: Island
1987: In the Skin of a Lion (based on his novel), New York: Knopf
1994: Edited with B. P. Nichol and George Bowering, An H in the Heart: A Reader, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart
1996: Wrote introduction, Anthony Minghella, adaptor, The English Patient: A Screenplay, New York: Hyperion Miramax
2002: The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, New York: Knopf
2002: Films by Michael Ondaatje
2004: Vintage Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje Poems
The Cinnamon Peeler
If I were a cinnamon peeler I would ride your bed And leave the yellow bark dust On your pillow.
To A Sad Daughter
All night long the hockey pictures gaze down at you sleeping in your tracksuit. Belligerent goalies are your ideal.
Griffin calls to come and kiss him goodnight I yell ok. Finish something I'm doing, then something else, walk slowly round the corner to my son's room.
Application For A Driving License
Two birds loved in a flurry of red feathers like a burst cottonball, continuing while I drove over them.
Speaking To You (From Rock Bottom)
Speaking to you this hour these days when I have lost the feather of poetry
On the warm July river head back upside down river
Notes For The Legend Of Salad Woman
Since my wife was born she must have eaten the equivalent of two-thirds of the original garden of Eden.
Catch, my Uncle Jack said and oh I caught this huge apple red as Mrs Kelly's bum. It's red as Mrs Kelly's bum, I said
The Great Tree
'Zou Fulei died like a dragon breaking down a wall... this line composed and ribboned in cursive script by his friend the poet Yang Weizhen
The Time Around Scars
A girl whom I've not spoken to or shared coffee with for several years writes of an old scar. On her wrist it sleeps, smooth and white,
In certain countries aromas pierce the heart and one dies half waking in the night as an owl and a murderer's cart go by the way someone in your life will talk out love and grief then leave your company laughing.
[Kissing the stomach]
Kissing the stomach kissing your scarred skin boat. History is what you've travelled on
The ceremonial funeral structure for a monk made up of thambili palms, white cloth is only a vessel, disintegrates
The last Sinhala word I lost was vatura. The word for water.
The Time Around Scars
A girl whom I've not spoken to
or shared coffee with for several years
writes of an old scar.
On her wrist it sleeps, smooth and white,
the size of a leech.
I gave it to her
brandishing a new Italian penknife.
Look, I said turning,
and blood spat onto her shirt.