Earle Birney was born in Calgary, Alberta, and raised in rural Alberta and British Columbia. To earn money for college, Birney held a variety of jobs involving manual labor before enrolling at the University of British Columbia in 1922. Clearly, both his studies and his experience in the labor force gave to his poetry a wide variety of themes and situations. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1938, Birney accepted a position at the University of Toronto, where he worked until he joined the army in 1942. After serving as a personnel officer during the war, he obtained a professorship in medieval literature at the University of British Columbia, a post from which he retired in 1965. Birney's poetry has received recognition both in Canada and abroad. He is credited with introducing into Canadian poetry a metrics based on everyday speech rather than on artificial cadences. His visual poems are considered the forerunners of concrete poetry and his experiments with sound the forerunners of sound poetry in Canada. Since publishing his first book of poems, David and Other Poems, in 1942, Birney has published 15 more volumes of verse, two novels, and several books of critical writing. In The Cow Jumped over the Moon (1972), he describes about the composition of his own poetry. Earle Birney's works include Spreading Time: Remarks on Canadian Writing and Writers, 1904-1949, Last Makings: Poems. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, and One Muddy Hand: Selected Poems. Earle Birney passed away in September 1995 of a heart attack.
Sam Solecki is a Professor in the Department of English, University of Toronto, the author of Prague Blues: The Fiction of Josef Skvoreckï¿½ (1988) and the editor of Imagining Canadian Literature: The Selected Letters of Jack McClelland (1998).