Jim Nason



Jim Nason is the author of six poetry collections: If Lips Were as Red (Palmerston Press), Music Garden (Frontenac House), Narcissus Unfolding (Frontenac House), Touch Anywhere to Begin (Signature Editions), the Fist of Remembering (Wolsack and Wynn), Rooster, Dog, Crow (Frontenac House, 2018); three novels: I Thought I Would be Happy (Tightrope Books); the Housekeeping Journals (Turnstone Press); Spirit of a Hundred Thousand Dead Animals (Signature Editions); and, a short story collection, the Girl on the Escalator (Tightrope Books).  His stories, essays and poems have been published in journals and anthologies across Canada and the U. S., including Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2008, 2010 and 2014.   

Jim holds degrees from McGill, Ryerson and York Universities.  

He has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Award in both fiction and poetry categories.

At the heart of Jim’s writing is a deep appreciation for life and the sense of wonder and surprise that comes out of the creative process.  Although Nason’s work is often highly personal, there is also a profound sense of class consciousness and social awareness that streams through his work.  Jim’s Master’s thesis, March Camp Code and Community was a literary analysis of Toronto’s first ‘official’ Pride Parade.  After graduation, at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, Jim focused on being a personal support worker for people living with HIV/AIDS.  His writing took a back seat while he worked in the sector and focused on his Social Work degree. When his partner died of cancer in 2000, out of loss and grief, Jim wrote the Fist of Remembering.

"Jim Nason’s short, fierce, taut poems confront, over and over, the horror and mystery of a lover dying of cancer. Hating his survivor’s eloquence, but using it, he achieves something like revenge against the forces of darkness."

- John AshberY, Pulitzer Prize poet,

His partner’s death was the cathartic force that prompted Jim to start writing again, renewed by a profound realization that death can arrive at any moment and that every second, the good and the bad, need to be cherished. With focus and determination, Nason gladly gets out of bed at the break of dawn each day and at his desk burns a blade of sweet grass, lights a few candles, and hunkers down to writing before heading off to his day job. His poetry and fiction continue to focus on the intersection between personal identity, art, culture and politics.


Spirit of a Hundred Thousand Dead Animals

His recently released novel, Spirit of a Hundred Thousand Dead Animals, features a homeless parent, Jack Layton’s funeral, and a queer artist wrestling with the decision to stay in the small town where he was born or move to the big city where he is more likely to find others like himself.

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Rooster, Dog, Crow

Nason’s poetry collection Rooster, Dog, Crow (Frontenac House, Fall, 2018) focuses on the personal implications of the current an untenable political climate. Writing with animal characters is new for Jim, however, the themes they embody: freedom, wonder, hurt and wisdom, are not.

As the publisher and owner of Tightrope Books, Jim is proud to have published over forty authors including Elizabeth Ukraintz, Marnie Woodrow, George Elliott Clarke, Michael Fraser, Kelley Aitken, Barry Dempster – writers with creative brilliance and social conscience.

Jim is the founder and organizer of Canada’s annual human rights poetry event, Meet Me in the Middle: Writers on Rights.  Bringing poets together from around the country in venues such as The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, the Halifax Central library or, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto to read and discuss poems about social issues has been profound.

Jim has read at the Bryant Park Reading Series, New York; Thin Air International Writer’s Festival, Winnipeg; the Whistler Writer’s Festival; the Toronto International Festival of Authors (IFOA) Battle of the Bards; the Tree Reading Series, Ottawa.

He has been published in many anthologies in the U. S. and Canada. 

Selected Anthologies include:

  • I Found it at the Movies, ed. Ruth Roach Pierson (Guernica: Toronto, Buffalo, Lancaster, U.K.).

  • XY Files: Poems on the Male Experience (Sherman Asher, Santa Fe, U.S.A).

  • Echoes of The Holocaust. Eds. Carole Ann Reed & Harold Lass (Vancouver).

  • Seminal: The Anthology of Canada's Gay Male Poets. Eds. Billeh Nickerson& John Barton (Arsenal Pulp, Vancouver).

  • My Diva: 65 Gay Men on The Women Who Inspire Them. (Terrace Boos, Wisconsin) Ed. Michael Montlack,

  • The New Quarterly: Interview with Kay Weber: Sitting Still, Being Peaceful, Paying Attention Issue 110, Spring, 2009 (Waterloo, ON).

  • Art or War: Bullet Paintings by Viktor Mitic. Introduction: "Focus and Vision: Viktor Mitic's Precise Bullets: Jim Nason" (Tightrope Books, Toronto).

  • About Face, a Fieldnotes Chapbook, Maureen Scott Harris (Toronto, ON).

  • CV2 Feature Interview with Clarise Foster. Issue 3/Vol 30 (Winnipeg).

Jim’s poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, the Fiddlehead, the New Quarterly, Descant, the Puritan, White Wall Review, Pilot Pocket Book, the Toronto Quarterly, Scrivener, Mudfish, New York, Freefall, Ticklace, ARC: Canada’s National Poetry Magazine

Recently, Jim has reembraced a creative urge to artist exploration outside of poetry and fiction.  His collages are an additional vehicle for understanding and celebrating life. Jim’s latest collection of collages, Blue Suitcase, can be found on the Collages page.

Multitasking, as always, Jim is currently working on a new poetry collection, Missing; a short story collection, Damned if You Do and a play, The Red Bus in the Winter Wood.