Tag Archives: Robert Hilles

A-R International: Robert Hilles

Robert Hilles
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Rain Hilles

Robert Hilles is a Canadian poet and novelist who divides his time between Nanaimo and Khon Kaen, Thailand.

Born in Kenora, Ontario, Hilles studied at the University of Calgary, earning a BA in Psychology and English in 1976. He also holds an MSc in Educational Psychology, earned at the university in 1985.

Hilles lived for many years in Calgary, Alberta and was active in the writing community there. For ten years he acted as the managing editor of Dandelion, the oldest surviving literary magazine in Alberta. He developed the magazine from a small pamphlet to one of the most respected literary magazines in Canada. During that time he also organized many successful readings featuring writers from across the country. In 2001, he moved to British Columbia and has been active in the literary community there, especially on Salt Spring Island where he lived until 2019. With other writers there, he helped to set up a scholarship for beginning writers on Salt Spring and also organized a new reading series on the island.

He served on the executive of the League of Canadian Poets for five years and in 1996 was sent by the League and the Department of Foreign Affairs to represent Canada at an International Poetry Festival in Japan. Hilles won the 1994 Governor General’s Award for Poetry for Cantos From A Small Room. In the same year, his first novel, Raising of Voices, won the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s George Bugnet Award for Novel. He has published sixteen books of poetry and five books of prose.

“I divide my time between Nanaimo BC and Thailand. In 1994, I won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry for Cantos From A Small Room. In the same year, my first novel, Raising of Voices, won the Writers Guild of Alberta George Bugnet Award for best novel. I have published fifteen books of poetry and five books of prose. My other books include: Finding The Lights On, Near Morning, Nothing Vanishes, Kissing The Smoke, Breathing Distance, Somewhere Between Obstacles and Pleasure, Higher Ground, Wrapped Within Again, Slow Ascent, Partake, and Time Lapse. Wrapped Within Again, New and Selected Poems was published in the fall of 2003 and won the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for best book of poetry. My second novel, A Gradual Ruin, was published by Doubleday Canada in 2004 and now is in paperback and ebook formats. My books have also been shortlisted for The Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Prize, The W.O. Mitchell/City of Calgary Prize, The Stephan Stephansson Award, and The Howard O’Hagan Award. My second non-fiction book, Calling The Wild, was published in the fall of 2005 from Black Moss Press. My thirteenth book of poetry, Slow Ascent, was published in the fall of 2006 and Partake in Spring 2010 from Black Moss Press. Time Lapse was published in 2012. I have completed a short story collection called, Release. My latest poetry books are Line (2018) and Shimmer (2019) both published by Black Moss Press.”


When I worked at the Calgary bookstore Books ‘n’ Books during the early 80s I had the opportunity to meet many authors, mainly poets, because the store made a point of supporting and promoting the local writing community. Plus, BnB was the kind of place people liked to hang out and talk about writing and books. There were two big overstuffed chairs in the front window, right next to the cash desk, and there was usually someone sitting in those chairs, especially on a Friday evening, either chatting or reading. Robert Hilles was one of these poets who visited the store regularly, and by that point in his career he had only published three collections of poetry. Since then, Robert has gone on to publish twenty-two volumes of his writing and has won numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1994 for Cantos From a Small Room. So I really have known Robert for quite a long time! We kind of lost touch after I left that bookstore, but have reconnected within the past decade or so and I’ve done more promotion for him and his work lately. Robert Hilles is another of the authors whose work I hear read regularly on Bob Chelmick’s radio programme, The Road Home. I mentioned this programme in the A-RI promotion I did for Rosemary Griebel. In this case, though, I know that while I’m sitting on my verandah in the Caribbean listening to The Road Home, Robert is likely also listening in while in Thailand on the other side of the world!


Shimmer: Love Poems

At the core of Governor General Award winning poet Robert Hilles’ twenty—second book and seventeenth poetry book is a series of love poems.
These poems convey love’s many nuances and express its tenuous, yet potent nature. Through precise details, the poet reveal love’s spiritual crucible. The poems are specific yet universal as they reveal love’s varied complexities. Love poems have long been a tenure of poets and he adds a contemporary take on them as he shifts between the concrete and the sublime.

Here’s what Robert Hilles is working on now: “My novel set in Thailand called, Don’t Hang Your Soul On That, will be published by Guernica Editions in 2021. (You may read samples of the first two chapters here – Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.) I am working on a book of prose poems called, A Piece of Rag Wrapped Gold (a book about the atomic age and includes poems on the Aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, Particle Physics and more love poems), and a book of flash fiction called, Pink Puppet. I am also currently working on two novels set in Canada called, To Parts Unknown and The Stoneboats, and a second novel set in Thailand called, One True Note.”

For more information on Robert Hilles, his writing and books, and where to purchase, please see his website.

IslandShorts … and we have liftoff!!

I am so very, very pleased to announce the new imprint, IslandShorts, that will be publishing short fiction and non-fiction as well as poetry!

island shorts

Seth Godin has written so eloquently – and concisely! – as he always does of what exactly I went through to get this idea off the ground: Proving the skeptics wrong (something I seem to have been doing for most of my life …) and The sweet smell of success (which is how I am feeling right now!)

But I didn’t do this alone, and I want to thank Michael Fay for believing in my idea of ePublishing “singles” in the first place, for all his suggestions and ideas along the way, and especially for being extremely patient as we worked at producing what I believe is a quality publication that many, many people will enjoy reading. After all, there’s no point in just throwing any old thing out there into the world; I wanted something that both I and the authors I plan to publish can be proud of – something to which we all wish to have our names attached.

I have also surrounded myself with experts during the production of these eBooks:

Gina McCreary at Human Powered Design of Calgary provided the formatting, cover and interior design, online sales listings, and general ePublishing expertise;

Rachel Small at Faultless Finish Editing, also located in Calgary, who provided editing and proofreading services;

Artist, Karen Sloan, of Haliburton, ON, a friend of Michael Fay’s who came on board to provide the beautiful cover art for each of Michael’s publications, and wrote about the experience on her blog, Wall Flower Studio Art – Judging a book by its cover …

And Micheal Fay of Minden, ON, has reminisced about his experience of writing this series of short stories and the background to the first publication, Tenderness, in this FlipBook, On Writing Tenderness.

Thanks, as well, to Bruce Hunter and Robert Hilles for reading advance copies and providing endorsements for the first two publications, Tenderness and The Whirlabout.

(I managed this entire project primarily from my home on Bequia in the Caribbean. You’ll notice that all people involved in this publishing endeavour live in diverse locations, and none of us ever found the need to meet as a group, proving that publishing can all be accomplished via the Internet!)

IS_TendernessTenderness is now available to purchase from the following online sales sites:

KINDLEAmazon.ca and Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
KOBO and all other eReaders – Kobo.com
and iTunes


Watch for future publications from IslandShorts!

The Whirlabout will be available for purchase soon …
That will be followed by The Healer, written by J. Michael Fay and That Last Summer, written by Susan M. Toy.

ABC Friday Reads – You Tell Me!

Here’s an opportunity for Readers and Authors, living either inside or outside our fair province, to tell us what they are reading that’s written by Authors who do live in Alberta now or have been associated with Alberta at some time or another. (I’m looking at you, Ken McGoogan, Pearl Luke and Robert Hilles!)

In the comments below, please post the author’s name and title of the book with a link to their webpage or the book’s listing on its publisher’s page, if you know how to do that. (If you don’t know, I’ll edit the comment for you to include those links.) These may be authors still living or no longer with us, either because they’ve moved away or have left the province in the permanent sense. It may even be your own book, although in all fairness you should also list a colleague’s book as well as your own, because the best way to get the word out about your own writing is to share information about the writing of others … It’s kind of a good karma thing. (And, truly NO ONE likes endless self-promotion!)

This post will be promoted on Facebook and Twitter, as usual, but please feel free to share it yourself on whichever social media you use in order to get as many people as possible reading about Alberta authors and adding to this list of book recommendations. That way, your favourite authors, and friends, will receive promotion further afield than just within the four borders of this province.

Please also like and consider subscribing to my blog (click on the button at the right side of this page) so that you will receive future notifications immediately in your email box whenever I write about and recommend other Alberta authors and books. Do it! Do it now!

As for my own recommendation this week, I will be reading Calgary-author, Wade Bell’s collection, Tracie’s Revenge & Other Stories after reading this review of the book on the Book Club Buddy site, which by the way is a fabulous resource for finding that next book to read. Thanks, Book Club Buddy!

What’s on your nightstand?