Robert Priest

rp photo by david laurence

Robert Priest, Photo by


 Robert Priest is the author of 20 books of poetry and prose and 3 spoken word recordings. His poetry video platforms on the web have attracted over a hundred thousand hits and he is a mainstay of the spoken word circuit in Canada and all over the world. His words have been decried in the legislature (see the video at youtube/greatbigfaced), turned into a hit song, posted in the transit system, broadcast on MuchMusic, charted on John Sakomoto’s anti-hit list, quoted by politicians, sung on Sesame Street and widely published in text books and anthologies.


His latest books are Previously Feared Darkness, ECW Press. (“Dense, humourous , knowing, pleading, consoling and entirely invigorating poems of the first class.” – Michael Dennis)  and a book of praise poems written for children: Rosa Rose published in June 2013 by Wolsak & Wynn  (“Rosa Rose and Other Poems is a beautiful poetry collection that needs to be on every child’s bookshelf and is sure to make young readers lovers of history and poetry.” – Inderjit Deogun CM magazine)

His 2008 book, Reading the Bible Backwards, rose to number two on the Globe and Mail’s poetry bestsellers list, its sales exceeded only by those of Leonard Cohen. “Priest renders the quotidian and intellectualizes it for us in a genius-sampling tool–himself… A sensational book.”  Nathaniel D. Moore, Broken Pencil Magazine.

“Poetry full of flashes of insight. Imaginative in a strange way, he takes inordinate chances with logic, countering absurdity with absurdity, and expanding our sense of human emotional possibilities.”

-The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature

His micro poems have found their way into The Farmer’s Almanac and Colombo’s Canadian Quotations. “There will always be plenty of space on the pages of my ‘quote books’ for the brilliant aphorisms of Robert Priest.” -John Robert Colombo

Robert first came to national attention as early as 1986 when his spoken word video/single Congo Toronto received nation-wide airplay on MuchMusic for over three months establishing for Priest a unique place in the poetry/music canon. In 1989, his collection of poems, The Mad Hand, was the recipient of the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry award. The spoken word CD Rotweiller Pacifist, l988, continued the tradition with a collection of twenty spoken word pieces, many of them accompanied by tracks and beats. Robert’s 3rd spoken word CD, Tongue’n’Groove, was released on EMI’s prestigious Artisan label in l998.

“Grand and Mystical.” (Eye Magazine)

During the past decade Robert has concentrated his poetic performances on the web platforms, and where a rotating series of spoken word videos, song-poems and micro-poems are available for public consumption. These attest to Robert’s abilities as a great live performer. They also attest to his appeal, the video: One Crumb having received well over 100,000 hits so far.

“Consistently One Of The Most Entertaining Acts In Town!” – Now Magazine

Robert lives in Toronto where he continues to write his “Passionate, cocky alternately adoring and insulting verse.” (The Toronto Star).



“Modern classics.”  -Donna Lypchuck, Eye Magazine

“He is certainly one of the most imaginatively inventive poets in the country.”  -The Pacific Rim Review of Literature

A truly invigorating combination of rants raves and reveries.  A candidly close encounter with an assured literary intelligence.    -The Toronto Star

Beautifully captures the rainbow of emotions that comprise the human spirit.. Intoxicatingly lovely!    –Now Magazine

“Robert Priest’s poems will speak to many generations.” –Bernice Lever, Canadian Book Review Annual

“Poetry full of flashes of insight. Imaginative in a strange way, he takes inordinate chances with logic, countering absurdity with absurdity, and expanding our sense of human emotional possibilities.”-The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature

“Priest renders the quotidian and intellectualizes it for us in a genius-sampling tool–himself…This is a sensational book.” – Broken Pencil Magazine

“Grand and Mystical.” (Eye Magazine)

“Priest employs his technical chops in the service of a pop-cult intellectual hook that could easily have proven facile. And the results are often brilliant.” –Jordan Zinovich, The Big Bridge

Dramatic and visionary.  There is a superb balance between poetry of ideas and poetry of feeling.  The content is frank and often erotic, but the leaven of laughter is never far away…. Magnificent, profound, religious and challenging.–Canadian Book Review Annual

“From the short, satirical Wedding Poem, through the intensely beautiful Hera to the visionary and political Lesser Shadows, Priest shows a depth and complexity that operates on many levels, raising his performance above a bar-room rant or a wishy-washy poetry reading to an intense experience, something akin to a trance session” – Lucy Mallows (Budapest Sun – Oct 22-28 1998)

“Some of these are mellow thoughts about lovers, poems and trees, others are down right rambunctious rocking sprees or resemble the scary voices you hear in your head. He’s got a range.” – Elysia Gallo (Budapest Week)

“The guiding thematic spirit of this entertaining collection may be backwardness, but it showcases a poet whose roving imagination is omni-directional.” The Toronto Star


Festivals Where Robert Priest has performed

Calgary International Spoken Word Festival, The Canadian Festival of the Spoken Word in Toronto and Festival Voix d’Amerique in Montreal, Poetry Gabriola, Words Aloud. He has also delivered the word at the Overload Festival in Melbourne Australia, the Kacat Kabaret in Budapest, the Free the Word Festival in Stockholm Sweden,  the Mariposa Folk Festival, the Hillside Festival, The Eaglewood Folk Festival,, the Berkley Slam, the Couchiching Think Tank and Toronto’s North by North East. Plus The International Festival of  Authors in Toronto, the Cambridge Festival, The Vancouver Writer’s Festival, The Winnipeg Writer’s Festival, The Kingston Writer’s Festival, The Acorn Festival, The Melbourne Writer’s Festival (Aus)  The Ottawa Literary Festival, Eden Mills Festival, the Leacock Festival.


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