J. Michael Yates (born April 10, 1938) is a widely published Canadian poet, dramatist and fiction writer.
Born in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and graduated from the Universities of Missouri and Michigan with a doctorate in Comparative Literature. A famous writer, poet, playwright and translator, he is widely published in poetry, fiction, drama, translations, and philosophical essays. His works have been translated into most of the western languages and several of the eastern ones. He has won many literary prizes, including the Major Hopwood Awards (both poetry and drama the same year) and the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts and Sciences from University of Missouri. He taught creative writing and comparative literature in several universities in both America and Canada; his last rank as a university professor was Distinguished Professor.
He has been on the literary scene since 1967, among his works: The Great Bear Lake Meditations – 1971; Nothing Speaks for the Blue Moraines – 1973; Breath of the Snow Leopard – 1974; Schedules of Silence – 1986; Hongyun: New and Collected Shorter Poems 1955-2005 – 2005.
He has won many literary prizes including the Major Hopwood Awards (both poetry and drama the same year) and the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts and Sciences from University of Missouri, The Olympic Arts Award for Schedules of Silence.
Now, he and his wife teach languages, history of ideas, and science in their home in Vancouver. Yates lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
His style is excellent, powerful, and meditative with a rythm and words which create resonances that deeply vibrate in his readers, and lead to the farthest shores of consciouness.
When Wolves (from Nothing Speaks for the Blue Moraines, 1973)
When black-burnished wolves
With their moon-green eyes,
Turn suspicious of stupid prey,
Wolves turn their icy eyes upon themselves.
I watched the heavy bulls, single, slow,
Rise along blue peaks toward snow,
Then descend into the storm-centres
Of their merest blood.
My mind turned
As the moose turned,
And the leaves.
Beneath the pale-green
Snake fire that strikes and straightens
Across the wide winter night,
My eyes turn to yours, my eyes,
Your moon-coloured eyes.
Way into Winter
One final mouth of water
From its dark center
In the freezing lake.
No birds circle now
But in the orange-rose skies
Behind my eyes:
Large black birds.
I’ve been to the fire
At the center of the earth:
My steps shall not snow-over