Jeff Bien is the author of numerous books and a critically acclaimed poet. His work has been widely recognized and his poems have been published in major literary journals and have been translated and recorded internationally.
Over the years, his poetry has been the recipient of various distinctions including: poetry awards from Literal Latte (New York) and The New Welsh Review (Academy, Wales); a Canadian Authors Association and Stephen Leacock award for poetry; recognized by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes for inclusion in the Arvon Anthology (Great Britain); nominated for a National Magazine Award (Descant); shortlisted on several occasions for the CBC Literary Award, the 2010 Arvon Award in Great Britain, as well as various other national and international literary honours.
He has received Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council Awards for recordings of his work as well as having been supported on numerous occasions by Foreign Affairs for readings in conjunction with the Canadian High Commission in London, and the Canadian Embassies in Paris and Havana.
He has been called “a ruthless truth-telling poet” (John Millett, editor, Poetry Australia), “an astonishing lyricist” (George Elliot Clark) and “another Ginsberg, Whitman” (George Whitman, Shakespeare and Company, Paris). His work has been called “the kind of poem that should not have been able to have been written” (Gary Geddes) and “a display of verbal pyrotechnics such as I've never seen before.” (Irving Layton).
True to Blake's epigrammatic “excess is the road to wisdom”, Bien's work has evolved from the passionately intellectual and incendiary to a more ubiquitous spiritual lyrical vision.
His work has engaged many forms, ranging from a prosaic often colloquial voice in his earlier work to a more formal and lyrical poetic, and in his recent work the two melding into a singular and distinctive voice.
Though Bien has led a largely reclusive life, on the occasions when he has done readings, he has drawn enthusiastic audiences. He is well known for his compelling, charismatic voice, as well as the virtuosity of language and visionary appeal of his work.
His most recent work includes a new collection of poems, “The Poet Sings”, and “Undressing the
Illusion: Letters to a Young Mystic”, a compendium of letters culled from years of spiritual
practice and study within various traditions.