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Phyllis Webb (1927-       )

Phyllis Webb was born in Victoria, B.C. and educated at U.B.C. When she was twenty-two she ran unsuccessfully for the provincial legislature for the newly-founded CCF party, after which she moved to Montreal to become secretary to McGill University's dean of the faculty of graduate studies. Before returning to teach at U.B.C. she lived variously in Paris, San Francisco, England and Toronto. In the mid-1960s she was instrumental in creating the long-running CBC arts and public affairs program Ideas and was its executive producer from 1966 to 1969. Since 1970, apart from the odd writer-in-residence position and some travel she has lived and written on Saltspring Island in B.C.'s Gulf Islands. Her first appearance in book form saw her share the volume Trio (Contact Press 1954) with Gael Turnbull and Eli Mandel. Her first solo collection was Even your right eye (1956) followed by The sea is also a garden (1962), Naked poems (1965) Selected poems (1971), Wilson's Bowl (1980), Talking [essays] (1980), The vision tree (1982/Governor General's Award), Water and Light: Ghazals and Anti Ghazals (1984) and Hanging Fire (1990). Webb's Naked Poems was controversial in the rather provincial milieu of Canadian Literature when it came out because it was explicitly lesbian in content; this marked her as an active leader in the Canadian feminist movement which was just then emerging.