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Michael Prior

Michael Prior is a poet, writer and teacher who completed an MFA degree in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Cornell University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of British Columbia (2013) and a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Toronto (2015). Prior’s highly acclaimed poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines, both digital and print. He has also published reviews and articles and even edited a short anthology of Vancouver poets for Frog Hollow Press. Prior’s Japanese Canadian heritage informs some of his work. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Macalester College. 


Burning Province

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House, 2020.
On order

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Acerbic, moving, and formally astonishing, Michael Prior’s second collection explores the enduring impact of the Japanese internment upon his family legacy and his mixed-race identity.

Amid the record-breaking wildfires that scorched British Columbia in 2015 and 2017, the poems in this collection move seamlessly between geographical and psychological landscapes, grappling with cultural trauma and mapping out complex topographies of grief, love, and inheritance: those places in time marked by generational memory “when echo crosses echo.”

Awards and Honours

2020 Canada-Japan Literary Award (Winner)

Model Disciple book cover


Model Disciple

Montréal: Véhicule Press/Signal Editions, 2016.
PS8631 .R575 M64 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

A mesmerizing and moving first collection, Model Disciple gives us a poetry of two minds. Confounded by Japanese-Canadian legacies too painful to fully embrace, Michael Prior’s split speakers struggle to understand themselves as they submit to their reinvention: “I am all that is wrong with the Old World, / and half of what troubles the New.” Prior emerges as a poet not of identity, but identities. Invented identities, double identities, provisional identities—his art always bearing witness to a sense of self held long enough to shed at a moment’s notice. Model Disciple ‘s Ovidean shape-shifting is driven by formal mastery and mot juste precision. It’s also one of the most commanding poetic debuts in years.

Swan Dive book cover

Poetry (Chapbook)

Swan Dive

Cover and artwork by Angela Yen.
Victoria, BC: Frog Hollow Press, 2014.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Michael Prior is perhaps the most preternaturally talented poet Frog Hollow Press has come across. One of the remarkable features about Michael is, yes, his relatively young age. Yet his poems belie this age–his energetic voice and pop culture enthusiasms are surpassed by a sonorous wisdom that no poet of his generation yet possesses. Swan Dive is an astonishing debut. Based on his recent successes, Prior is on an Atwood-like trajectory and I honestly don’t know where Michael’s work will end up. The current clutch of poems is a small sample size fixed in time, but I have very high hopes for him. – Shane Neilson (Editor for the press)

The City Series Number One Vancouver book cover

Anthology (Poetry chapbook)

The City Series: Number One: Vancouver

Michael Prior, Guest Editor.
Victoria, BC: Frog Hollow Press, 2015.
Edition of 150 copies.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The Poets: Emily Chou – Emily Davidson – Ruth Daniell – Sugar le Fae – Megan Jones – Darius Kinney – Alesandra Naccarato – Shazia Hafiz Ramji – Laura Ritland – Shaun Robinson.

Wunderkind Michael Prior assembles together ten Vancouver poets who are all unpublished in book or chapbook form. He has sought out talented people whose verse somehow represents his city’s poetic and introduced that poetic in personal prose. The poets in The City Series: Vancouver constitute a cross-section of poetry that is diverse, brainy, and emotional, upending stereotypes about Vancouver as a poetry-town.


Michael Prior personal website

Publisher Frog Hollow Press

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada

Publisher Véhicule Press