BRENDA CLEWS is a poet, painter, dancer and video artist living in Toronto, Canada.
She was born in Zimbabwe in the small mining town of Sinoia. When she was two her father, D. Richard Clews, who was a geologist, moved her and her mother to Kafue National Park in Zambia, then the largest gamepark in Africa, as he joined a mining team looking for copper, and where her two brothers were born.
Her formative years were spent in the jungle, barefoot, living in a compound of mud huts, with many wild animals and the wonderful Ndembu people. With little but her imagination and the accoutrements of nature, she wiled away her childhood in a bliss that she has always been grateful for. Her deep resonance with a tribal spirituality and perspective on life remain fundamental to her work.
After the time in the jungle came a year in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and then her father took the family to England where he obtained a doctorate in Geochemistry and accepted a position in Canada. Brenda has lived in Toronto since coming to Canada.
She attended York University for a decade or so, garnering a few degrees with courses in Fine Arts, English Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies, and read voraciously and widely. She’s been published in literary journals and shown her work in art shows. She was married for 15 years, had children, and became single again. She moved to Vancouver for 2 years, between 2003-2005, before returning to Toronto, where she now lives.
She has written an autobiographical photopoem in 19 sections, “Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls,” ‘a prose poem of my life in sections, part scrapbook, part travelogue, an immigrant poem of the always arriving with its tracings of memories of the singing bowls of horizons traversed, maps a journey across continents…’
Her focus for the past number of years has been on developing writing that integrates multiplicities. That focuses on the prism rather than the spotlight, or on multiple spotlights. A work may include poetry, essays, painting, dance and video on one general topic, an approach that may be seen in the variety of work at her website: Art & Writings.
- Places I’ve lived
- Sinoia, Zimbabwe; Lusaka, Zambia; Frinton-on-the-Sea and Barnet, England; Vancouver and Toronto in Canada
- Schools I’ve attended
- Mostly York University in Toronto, for a good decade