About Lea Harper
Storyteller at Heart
Poet, novelist, and songwriter, Lea Harper is the author of two collections of poetry All That Saves Us and Shadow Crossing (Black Moss Press) and four recordings. She recently collaborated with the poetry/jazz ensemble, Alchemy, on performance and production. A past recipient of The LaPointe Prize and double-winner of The People’s Political Poem contest, she was also shortlisted for the international Being at Work Poetry Challenge and runner-up in the Surrey International Writers Conference Contest. Daniel Richler described her first book as "universal, transcending today's popular psychic symbols and mythologies."
Ms. Harper's work has been widely published in literary journals including Vallum, Descant, The Literary Review of Canada, Contemporary Verse 2, Grain, The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, Event, This Magazine, The Minnesota Review, The Canadian Forum, The Windsor Review, Event, Canadian Dimension and Quarry. Her poems have been anthologized in North America and the United Kingdom and her articles and editorials have appeared in Billboard Magazine, New York, The Haliburton County Echo and the Voice.
The author and composer has received grants for both music and writing from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. She has been an adjudicator for the OAC, and has served on juries for several notable contests and awards including the Toronto Star/Poet Laureate Poetry Competition along with Dennis Lee.
Her music has taken her to Los Angeles, Jamaica, and South America. Along with twin sister Lyn, the songwriting team Syren released three records and received both Juno and Casby nominations, winning the Canadian Reggae Award for Top Duo and Best Video at The Black Music Awards (BMAC). As well, the Harper sisters wrote and co-produced a musical documentary on the Lubicon Cree which aired on Much Music, composed the soundtrack for a National Film Board short, sang in a Bette Midler film, and contributed "soundscapes" for the Desrosiers Dance Theatre.
Harper contributed her poetry and co-hosted the Haliburton County Reads program, one segment placing 2nd across Canada in the National Community Radio Association Awards for 2012. She was a regular host and performer with the lively Dead Poets Society of Minden and played the Woman in Black in Highlands Little Theatre production.
She currently lives on a lake in the Haliburton Highlands, where she is completing her first novel and raising a family of dogs, horses, and people.
Lea Harper / Poetry
Books and Chapbooks
Unclaimed Baggage. A Chipbook , new works, littlefishcartpress, October 2005, Orono, ON.
Shadow Crossing. Black Moss Press, 2000, Windsor, ON
All That Saves Us. Black Moss Press, 1998, Windsor, ON
Alchemy: Jazz-poetry fusion. CD forthcoming.
Lake of Many Winds. CD. Spoken Word, Writes on Water publishing, Haliburton, 2010
In collaboration with Lyn Harper in the rock reggae duo Syren:
Wisdom of the Heart, Magnum Opus Records, Toronto, 1993.
Let Them Live, Magnum Opus Records, Toronto, 1990.
The One, LP, Magnum Opus Records, 1984, Toronto and Kingston, Jamaica.
“The Offering” received the Judge’s Choice Award’ in the Dr. William Henry Drummond Poetry Contest Anthology, 2022.
“You Are” Tell Me Who We Were Before Life Made Us, 3 of Cups Press, London, UK, Summer, 2021, Ed. Maz Hedgehog.
“Swan Song,” We Are One – Poems for the Pandemic, Bayeux Arts anthology, Fall, 2020, Calgary AB, Ed. George Melnyk.
“Rimbaud Summoned by Blake” Fierce Invalids, A tribute to Arthur Rimbaud, Blind Dog Press, Australia, 2014, Ed. Glenn W. Cooper.
"Moving In 1" Highway 35, The Right Eyed Deer Press, Halibuton, ON, 2014, Ed. Douglas Pugh.
“Messiah” Ascent Aspirations Magazine Erotica Print anthology, Nanoose Bay, B.C., Fall, 2008, Ed. David Fraser.
“Diver” Arms Like Ladders: The Eloquent She,” celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Feminine Caucus, The League of Canadian Poets, 2007, Ed. Katerina Fretwell.
“A Cold Catch” And no one Knows the blood we share, Living Archives of the Feminine Caucus, The League of Canadian Poets, 2005, Ed. Katerina Fretwell.
“In Praise of Folly” A World of Words, Fall 2004, British Columbia, Ed. KC Dyer.
“Ariel” The Mentor’s Canon, Broken Jaw Press, 2001, Fredericton, NB, Ed. Kemeny Babineau.
“The Rapture” and “I Wait” Smaller than God: words of spiritual longing, Black Moss Press, 2001, Ed. Dr. Paul Quenon and John. B. Lee.
“A Far Cry” Following the Plough, recovering the rural, Black Moss Press, 2000, Ed. John B. Lee
“I Have the Power” and “The Lake in July” I Want To Be the Poet of Your Kneecaps, October 1999, Black Moss Press, Ed. John B. Lee.
“The Lake in July” Water, The Beehive Press, Surrey, Sutton, UK., September 1999, Ed. Hugh Reveley.
“Birth” and “Weekend Indians” Carnival - a Scream in High Park reader, Insomniac Press, 1996, Toronto, ON, Ed. Peter McPhee.
“Coming Back” Vintage ‘94, The League of Canadian Poets’ anthology, Toronto, Ontario, Ed. Sandra Nicholls.
“Evolution of the Fly” Ocarina Freshness of the Ancient, The Tagore Institute of Creative Writing, 1986-87, Madras, India, Ed. Amal Ghosh.
“Ill-conceived,” “Severance,” and “Exiled” are forthcoming in the Antigonish Review, Issue 213, 2023, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
“Bedlam" Vallum, 9:2, the Invisible Cityscape, Fall, 2012, Montreal, QC
"Magic Bullet" Ars Medica, Vol.8. No.2, Spring, 2012, Dept of Psychiatry, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON
"A Cold Catch" the Windsor Review, Spring 2011, Vo.44. No.1
“An Afterlife” LRC: the Literary Review of Canada Vol. 18, No. 7, September, 2010.
“Parting Words” Contemporary Verse 2 (the Green Issue :v.32 n.1) Summer 2009.
“Messiah” appeared in the Ascent Aspirations Magazine Erotica Print anthology, Fall, 2008.
“A Cold Catch” Take Out, Cooked and Eaten, Issue One, Winter 2008, Peterborough, ON
“Maid to Order” appeared in the minnesota review Issue 68, 2007, Pittsburg, PA
“A Cold Catch” appeared in River King Supplement, Vol. IX, No. 1, Spring, 2003, Freeburg, Illinois.
“The Lake in July” appeared in Grain, Vol.27, No. 4, Spring 2000, Saskatoon, Sask.
“Temporary Gardens” appeared in Descant, Gardening issue, Vol. 30, No. 2, Summer 1999, Toronto, ON
“The Colours of Love” appeared in CV2, Vol. 22, No. 1, Summer 1999 Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“It’s How You Work Out the Evil” appeared in Event - The Douglas College Review, New Westminster, B.C. 28/1, April, 1999.
“Battle of the Pines” and “A Far Cry” appeared in the People’s Poetry Letter, Vol 5, No. 1, Fall and Winter, 1998/99, Toronto, ON
“Double Pulse,” “The Moon Had a Sister,” “Babel,” and “The Last of February” appeared in The Canadian Forum, May 1998, Ottawa, ON
“Pale Horses” appeared in Graffito, Issue 11, October 1995, Ottawa, ON
“Body Parts” appeared in Contemporary Verse, (18.1) issue, Summer, 1995, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Weekend Indians” appeared in This Magazine, Vol. 28, No. 7, Mar/April 1995, Toronto, ON
“The Annotated Snake” appeared in The Amethyst Review, Vol. 3. No. 1, Winter, 1995, Toronto, ON
“Commencement of Tai Chi” appeared in The Antigonish Review, Fall, 1993, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
“The Prisoner God”, “The Basket”, “Singer” and “I Have the Power” appeared in Descant, Texts for a Winter Solstice, Vol. 25, No. 3 and 4, Winter, 1994, Toronto, ON
“Treeson” and “Crossover” appeared in Canadian Dimension, Vol. 25, No. 4, 1991, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Crossover” re-appeared in Canadian Dimension (CD), Vol. 28, No. 2, 1994, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Dining on Dead Apples” and “My Child’s Inheritance” appeared in Canadian Dimension, Working Lines, Vol. 25, No. 5, 1991, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Messiah” appeared in This Magazine, Vol. 20, 1986, Toronto, ON.
“Boys in the Dark Room” appeared in The Fiddlehead, No. 133, 1982, Fredericton, New Brunswick.
“The Transformation” and “The Mind’s Mad Harvest” appeared in Quarry. Vol. 25, No. 1, 1976, Kingston, ON.
Awards and Honours
“Bedlam” was chosen as “Poem of the Week by Vallum,” August 31, 2015 https://vallum.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/vallum-poem-of-the-week-bedlam-by-lea-harper/
I co-hosted the Haliburton County Reads program. One segment placed 2nd across Canada in the National Community Radio Association Awards, 2012.
“Maid to Order” was shortlisted for the international Being at Work Poetry Challenge (LivingWorks) Ottawa, ON, 2007
“In Praise of Folly” received Honourable Mention in the 12th Annual Surrey International Writing Conference Poetry Contest, A World of Words, Fall 2004, British Columbia.
“The Colours of Love” received Honourable Mention in CV2's Spring writing contest, 2000.
“The Colours of Love” won the LaPointe Prize, 1999.
“Battle of the Pines” and “A Far Cry” double-winner of The People’s Political Poem Contest, Spring, 1998,
“Pale Horses” won third prize in the annual Icarus Competition and appeared in the chapbook Soaring and Gliding, Kenan Press, 1995, North Carolina, U.S.
“Pale Horses” selected for the ‘98 Sandburg-Livesay Award, Sing for the Inner Ear, Unfinished Monument Press, Pittsburgh, PA
“Commencement of Tai Chi” won The Windhorse Reader: Choice Poems of ‘93, Samuri Press, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Soundscapes for the DesRosiers Dance Theatre’s production, Concerto in Earth Minor, the DuMaurier Theatre in Harbourfront, Toronto, 1988.
The Black Music Awards (BMAC), 1985, Best Video, “Higher Love"
Juno Nomination, 1984, Best Reggae Performance, “Higher Love”
Canadian Reggae Awards, 1984, Top Duo.
CASBY nomination, 1984, Best Vocal Performance, “Higher Love”
Selected Readings and Performances
I have read my work in many major venues and literary festivals, either solo or as part of the jazz-poetry fusion group Alchemy. These venues include The Wild Writers Reading Series, Jazz Poetry Café, Toronto, 2019, Freetimes Café, Toronto ON, 2018, The Lakefield Literary Festival, 2015, The Trent University Reading Series, Peterborough, ON (most recently in 2016), The RD Lawrence Literary Festival, Minden, ON, 2011, The Art Bar Reading Series, Toronto, ON (several appearances from 1998 - 2001).
As a singer-songwriter, with twin sister, Lyn, I toured North American extensively between the years of 1974 and 1994 and performed in Los Angeles, Jamaica, and South America. Let Them Live and Wisdom of the Heart videos rotated on Much Music and led to appearances on City TV, Breakfast Television and the Music Circle (CTV) 1993-4. Festivals, concerts, and clubs include The Festival of Friends, Hamilton, ON, Frost Bite Festival, Yukon, Earth Voice Festival, British Columbia, and in Toronto: Convocation Hall, Ontario Place, Nathan Phillips Square, Edge Fest, Harbourfront, The Winter Garden Theatre, Danforth Music Hall, the Phoenix, the Bamboo, and the Rivoli, 1984- 1994.
Grants for Professional Writers from the Canada Council for the Arts, 2000
Ontario Arts Council Works-in-Progress Grant, 1998
The Canada Council for the Arts Emerging Writers Grant, 1996
Received the following Ontario Arts Council Writer’s Reserve Grants:
Brick Books, 2009, Black Moss Press and Descant, 2003, Black Moss Press, 2000,
Brick Books and Descant, 1999, Descant, 1993, Penumbra Press, 1992
Canada Council for the Arts, Wisdom of the Heart, 1992
Canada Council for the Arts, Explorations Grant for the musical documentary, Let Them Live, a tribute to the Lubicon Cree, 1990
SOCAN recording and video, Wisdom of the Heart, 1992-3.
Book Reviews, Articles/Essays
2004 – 2012: I frequently contributed pieces to the Haliburton County Echo and was the Arts and Entertainment Columnist for the Highlands Communicator and Haliburton County Voice in 2007. I wrote book reviews for the League of Canadian Poets (1990s) and wrote several editorials on the music industry for Billboard Magazine, NY (1986-87).