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Athabasca University

Genni Gunn

Versatility is the outstanding quality in the work of Genni Gunn, a Canadian writer, musician and translator who lives in British Columbia. In addition to novels, short stories and poetry Gunn has  published literary translations from Italian and written opera librettos.

Genni Gunn was born Genni Donati in Trieste, Italy and moved to Canada in 1960 when she was 11 years old and so she had already started school in Italy. She grew up in Vancouver and studied at the University of British Columbia where she earned a B.F.A. (1982) and an M.F.A. (1984). Before starting university Gunn toured Canada with a  number of bands. While still a student Gunn began to publish poetry and short stories. Her first book of short stories, On the Road (1991),  reflects the experiences of traveling with a band. Her novel, Thrice Upon a Time (1990) deals with the search for the identity of an abandoned child. The narrative uses traditional native legends of the Pacific Northwest. The third book by Gunn is a collection of prose poems, Mating in Captivity (1993) which “conjures up memories of her romantic childhood in Italy—a charismatic father often absent on secretive business, a loving mother who consoles her family with art.”  Her major novel is Tracing Iris (2001) which deals with the daughter’s search for the mother who left her when she was a child. These themes of loss, abandonment, and search for identity are also explored in Gunn’s third novel,  Solitaria (2010) which is set in Italy’s  southern Adriatic coast. Here Piera, the heroine, keeps the secret of her long-lost brother. Her siblings come home to discover the truth from her at last.

Genni Gunn has also translated poetry books by Italian poet, Dacia Maraini, Devour Me Too (1987) and  Travelling in the Gait of a Fox (1992). Her opera libretto, Alternative Visions was staged in Montreal in May, 2007. She has taught creative writing for many years at Kwantlen University College in Vancouver and has been a visiting professor at Queens University, the Banff School of Arts, The University of British Columbia, the Island Mountain Arts School and many other locations.

Over the years Genni Gunn has been an active member of many writers organizations such as the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Literary Translators Association of Canada. Her work has been nominated for a number of awards such as the CBC Literary Competition, The Commonwealth Prize, the John Glassco Translation Prize, the Diego Valeri Prize and others. (J. Pivato)

Updated February 12 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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