CV: Me, Myself and I

Born in Belfast in the north of Ireland and educated at McMaster University (MA in English literature), I'm a reader, poet and essayist - blogger as well. I taught literature for 30 years at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. Long time contributor to the Hamilton Spectator and Hamilton Arts and Letters. Culture Critic for The Nancy Duffy Show, I used to write book reviews for The Globe and Mail and The Literary Review of Canada. Former columnist for Dialogue Magazine, I live in Hamilton with my wife Cheryl and dog Sophia.

J.S. Porter
4 Emming Court
Hamilton, Ontario
L9C 4A2

Critical Comment

  • "J.S. Porter is our most generous, elegant essayist. He is also one of our very best critics. Wisdom, perception, humour, wide reading, passion, quirky intelligence, a love of style - he has it all. " B.W. Powe
  • "I have dubbed him a Great Appreciator."
  • "... John's poetry, which is an achievement for real...he has a graceful and beguiling way when it comes to prosody and the wisdom of poetry." John Robert Colombo
  • New York City's Richard Kostelanetz in Outlook: Canada's Progressive Jewish Magazine:
  • "Porter is a fluent and engaging writer, often aphoristic, who takes pride in staking unfamiliar intellectual territory."
  • Keith Garebian in The Globe and Mail February 23, 2002 says this about my approach to spirit, books and words:
  • "Intimacy in J.S. Porter's essays on literature and spirituality is of a different sort. The author treats books as if they were living, breathing worlds... Porter's fine critical mind is clearly felt in his elegant inquiry into the subtle places where word and spirit meet ..."
  • Eric Mader, an author and English teacher in Taiwan, writes this on two of my books:
  • "I've just today finished reading Canadian critic JS Porter's Thomas Merton: Hermit at the Heart of Things. The book will very likely make a Merton enthusiast of me. His writing here, as in Spirit Book Word, is infectious in its balance and intimacy. Porter is a great case study in the wisdom of only writing on what one cares about. The feel for Merton's predicament and character comes through better than it ever could had he followed a standard biographical format."

Awards and Special Honours

  • In the Canadian Who's Who for literary contributions
  • First prize in Top 40 Poetry Anthology 1993: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Hamilton Poets
  • A Catholic Press Journalism Award in 1999, Second Place for "Ted Rettig's Stones" in Grail in 1998
  • Words from my Spirit Book Word were performed by the Talisker Players at St. Paul's Trinity United Church in Toronto on November 5, 2002 along with words by Dennis Lee. Excerpts from my book were read by the professional actor and theatre director Ross Manson
  • Juror for the national 2005 Drainie-Taylor Prize in biography (autobiography& memoir)
  • 2012 Winner in the Hamilton Literary Awards for best non-fiction book (Lightness and Soul) and best non-fiction article ("Duras").
  • 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts for the City of Hamilton
  • 2017 shortlisted for Vallum magazine chapbook contest - "Scraps & Small Discriminations"

Books Published

  1. The Thomas Merton Poems (Goderich, On.: Moonstone, 1988).
  2. Spirit Book Word: An Inquiry into Literature and Spirituality (Ottawa, Saint Paul's University: Novalis, 2001).
  3. Thomas Merton: Hermit at the Heart of Things (Ottawa: Novalis, 2008).
  4. The Glass Art of Sarah Hall (Paderborn, Germany: Glasmalerei Peters GmbH, 2011).
  5. Lightness and Soul: Musings on Eight Jewish Writers (Woodstock, Ont: Seraphim Editions, 2011).
  6. Of Wine and Reading (North Vancouver, BC: The Alfred Gustav Press, 2016). Chapbook.
  7. Co-author with Susan McCaslin, Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton's Dance with the Feminine (Kelowna, BC: Woodlake, 2018).
  8. Small Discriminations (North Vancouver, BC: The Alfred Gustav Press, 2019). Chapbook.

Books Contributed To

  1. Dennis Lee's Body Music, Chapter "Poetry and Unknowing, Anansi, 1998. Draws on an interview by Michael Higgins, Peter Hinchcliffe, and John Porter, published in The New Quarterly (Summer 19940) and recast for Poetry and Knowing (Quarry, 1995), a volume of essays by Tim Lilburn.
  2. Faith and Literature Matters, edited by Michael W. Higgins, Chapter Four, "Poetry: Renewing the Catholic Imagination," Novalis, 2014.
  3. Introduction to Eva Tihanyi's Flying Underwater: Poems New and Selected, Ianna, 2012.
  4. Correspondence with Eric Mader (224-247) in his Heretic Days: Writing from the Margins of Christianity, 2011.
  5. Road Work Ahead (poetry & images), An Anthology, Asphalt Tree Press, 2010. Introduction, with poem "Asphalt Museum."

Art Criticism

  • "Live Wood: Meditations on the Sculpture of Wayne Allan," Grail: An Ecumenical Journal, Vol. 3, Issue 2, June '87.
  • "Notes on Wayne Allan's Sculpture," Grail, Vol. 10, Issue 4, Dec. '94.
  • "Contemplating Father Dan Donovan's Art Collection," Grail, Vol. 11, Issue 4, Dec. '95.
  • "Meditation on Stone" (on Edward Gibney), Grail, Vol. 13, Issue 1, March '97.
  • "Ted Rettig's Stones," Grail, Vol. 14, Issue 2, June '98.
  • "Frances Ward is a Seer," InRetro Magazine, '99.
  • The Glass Art of Sarah Hall, published in Germany 2011.
  • "Portrait of a Potter - Frances Ward (plus Brancusi, a Japanese word & the Book of Jeremiah)" InRetro Magazine, 2014.
  • "On Tor Lukasik-Foss' Mythos vs. Technos," Hamilton Arts and Letters, Issue Eight.2, 2015-2016.
  • "What to Save in a Burning House: Wayne Allan and the Arts," Hamilton Arts and Letters, Issue Nine.1, 2016.
  • A Thousand Colours: Sarah Hall Glass (two essays: "The Religious Imagination" and "The Beatitude Windows").

Movie Reviews for the Nancy Duffy Show

  • The Professional; Ghost Dog; Cosmopolis; Beasts of the Southern Wild;
  • Quentin Tarantino; Sarah Polley's Toronto (Take This Waltz);The Lorax; Roger Ebert In Memoriam; Twelve Years a Slave; Monsieur Lazhar vs. A Separation; Shakespeare Films; DVD Gems of 2012; Blue Jasmine; Philip Seymour Hoffmann; On The Shape of Water; First Reformed; Black Panther; Paterson; Roma

Quoted or Referenced In

  1. Ian Angus, et al., editors, Athens and Jerusalem: George Grant's Theology, Philosophy, and Politics (2007)
  2. Brian Bartlett, editor, Don McKay: Essays on His Works (2006)
  3. Robert Lecker, The Cadence of Civil Elegies (2006)
  4. Monique Tschofen, editor, Kristjana Gunnars: Essays on Her Works (2004)
  5. Ronald Rolheiser, Against An Infinite Horizon (2001)
  6. Ronald Rolheiser, Forgotten Among the Lilies
  7. Rolheiser, Sacred Fire
  8. Michael W. Higgins, Heretic Blood
  9. Michael W. Higgins, Turning the Wheel: Henri Nouwen and Our Search for God
  10. Dennis Lee, Body Music
  11. Marilyn Gear Pilling, The Field Next to Love; The Bones of the World Begin to Show
  12. B.W. Powe, A Canada of Light; Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy
  13. Tim Lilburn, editor, Poetry and Knowing, "Interview with Dennis Lee"
  14. Robert Fulford, Accidental City (on Heidegger)
  15. Trish Glazebrook, Heidegger's Philosophy of Science (2000) (p. 144)
  16. Nell Waldman, Michael Ondaatje and His Works, 11
  17. Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005 by Shannon Hengen, Ashley Thomson
  18. Reading and Writing Experimental Texts: Critical Innovations. Robin Silbergleid, ‎Kristina Quynn - 2017
  19. The Poetry and Poetics of Dennis Lee - Oxford Academic Journals by Mark Dickinson, Sept. 3, 2018

Blurbs for Atwood

  1. I reviewed Margaret Atwood's Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing for The Globe and Mail. Words from my review appeared anonymously on the front cover. The book was subsequently reprinted as Margaret Atwood on Writers and Writing. My front cover words are used on the back cover - "Atwood teases, probes, tickles, punches and enlightens...a writer who has scratched her name on the tablet of the English language. She belongs to the world" - and as the first blurb on the inside of the book.
  2. "Moving Targets is a surprise get get get lines of perfect pitch and tone." -Globe and Mail

Other Globe Pieces

An Essay With Legs

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