UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 1 | Jan. 10, 2002

Friendship contributes to exhibit on poet's work

National library pays tribute to UBC alumna, Phyllis Webb

by Michelle Cook staff writer

Although his 40-year friendship with one of Canada's finest poets, Phyllis Webb, got off to a rocky start, English Prof. Emeritus John Hulcoop had no reservations about contributing his extensive knowledge to a recently opened National Library of Canada exhibition about her work and life.

When English-born Hulcoop first met Phyllis Webb in Vancouver in 1960, he found her rather prickly. Webb, a UBC graduate, suspected him of harbouring colonialist attitudes about Canada. Eventually he fell in love -- not with Webb, but with her poetry. He began to review and write articles about her work.

Webb went on to work as a writer and producer at the CBC and continued to write poetry, winning the Governor General's Literary Award in 1982 for her collection of poetry, The Vision Tree.

The significant body of critical analysis Hulcoop produced on Webb's work over the years attracted the attention of the National Library and Hulcoop, who taught at UBC from 1956-92, was asked to curate a new exhibition about Webb's work and life. Hulcoop also contributed some of the letters, postcards, photos and other items in the exhibit.

The exhibition, "Phyllis Webb: Elemental," traces the poet's life through a collection of photographs, artwork, manuscripts, and first editions arranged into four sections: earth, air, fire and water -- recurring themes in Webb's work. It also celebrates her role as a social activist throughout her life.

"I was honoured to be asked to create this exhibit on Phyllis Webb," Hulcoop says from his home in Vancouver. "It was tremendously satisfying to feel that I could help show Canada what an extraordinary woman she is and what she has contributed to Canadian culture and society."

Born in Victoria in 1927, Webb graduated from UBC in 1949 and later returned to campus to teach.

While working at the CBC, Webb helped create the program Ideas. She also produced a 10-part series on Canadian poets that helped generate interest in contemporary Canadian poetry in the 1970s.

While her collection of poems, The Vision Tree, won a Governor General's Award, Canada's literary community created an uproar when Webb's preceding volume, Wilson's Bowl, failed to win, and writers including Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje protested the oversight.

Webb no longer writes but paints. She lives on Saltspring Island.

The exhibit continues at the National Library of Canada in Ottawa until Feb. 28.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.