Joseph ("Joe") Blades was born on 29 August 1961 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was a poet as well as the president of Broken Jaw Press, a publishing company located in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He started the company in 1984 when he was living in Banff, Alberta. Its authors under imprint are from around the world.
Late in 1964, he moved from Elmsdale to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with his parents, Wendell and Phyllis (Pieroway) Blades. His mother is the author of Memories of Sandy Point, St. George’s Bay, Newfoundland (2003). He graduated from Prince Andrew High School in 1979.
Blades moved to Banff, Alberta to work in 1981. In 1984 he began his studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and in the summer of 1985 he attended the Banff Centre for the Arts Writing Program.
In 1987 he moved to New York for four months to undertake a Curatorial Internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art. At the time, he was the first Canadian to have been chosen for this internship. While Blades was living in New York, he benefited from the vibrancy of the city, started New Muse of Contempt magazine, and wrote poems later published in a chapbook titled Tribeca ( 1998).
Blades had always preferred writing workshops to the more formal post-secondary education courses that teach writing. Among his influences, he cited Milton Acorn and Maria Jacobs as being important. Blades' first public reading was in 1980 in Toronto. His first public reading in Fredericton, New Brunswick was in July 1988. Before attending the Maritime Writers’ Workshop in 1988, he graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax, where he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a Studio Major in Intermedia.
In 2004 Blades took part in a Book Publishing Immersion workshop at Simon Fraser University. In 2006, he taught at the University of East Sarajevo, in Pale, Bosnia and Herzegovina, for four months. In 2008, he received a certificate in Film and Television through the New Brunswick Filmmakers' Co-Operative.
In 2012, Blades lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where he earned his Masters in Education at the University of New Brunswick. Up until his death on 22 April 2020 he continued to run Broken Jaw Press, publishing new titles every year.
Also a radio show host, Blades had won awards for his radio programme on CHSR 97.9 FM, and he won honourable mentions at many of the workshops that he had attended over the years.
Karla Dunfield, Winter 2009
St. Thomas University
Bibliography of Primary Sources
Blades, Joe. & Care Electronic. Fredericton, NB: Book Rat, 1990.
---. Aaaaaaab. Fredericton, NB: Dead Sea Physh Products, 1990.
---. The A.B. Dick Colour Story. Halifax, NS: Broken Jaw, 1985.
---. Afterimage / Naknadna Slika. Trans. Bobana Stephens. Fredericton, NB: Spare Time, 2004.
---. Apathy. Toronto, ON: Twobitter, 1995.
---. By(e) the River. Fredericton, NB: Book Rat, 1990.
---. Casemate Poems. Waterloo, ON: Widows & Orphans, 2004.
---. Casemate Poems (Collected). Ottawa, ON: Chaudiere Books, 2011.
---. Cover Makes a Set. London, ON: HMS, 1990.
---. Dawn/astride/estuary. Fredericton, NB: Dead Sea Physh Products, 1990.
---. DEC 31 1988. Los Angeles, CA: Utopic Furnace, 1990.
---. Eurotrip. Kamploops, BC: Pooka, 1996.
---. 4 Eurotrip Postcards. Halifax, NS: Broken Jaw, 1985.
---. For Sha(u)nt Basmajian. Cambridge, ON: Hungry Zipper, 1991.
---. From the Book That Doesn’t Close. Fredericton, NB: Broken Jaw, 2008.
---. Future Now Past. London, ON: SpareTime Editions, 1990.
---. Groundhog Daze 00. Fredericton, NB: Post Haste Card, 2000.
---. Help: You Need It, We Offer It. Fredericton, NB: Book Rat, 1996.
---. In the Valley of the Shadow of Poets’ Corner. Poetry Chapbook Series 5. Maxville, ON: Above/Ground, 1994.
---. Journey through Pink Clouds of Momentary Mentalities. Toronto, ON: Joe Blades, 1980.
---. Open Road West. Fredericton, NB: Broken Jaw, 2000.
---. Paper Bags. Halifax, NS: Dead Sea Physh Products, 1989.
---. Personal interview. 21 Oct. 2009.
---. Poems for Barry Colpitts. Fredericton, NB: Broken Jaw, 2006.
---. Prison Songs and Storefront Poetry. Victoria, BC: Ekstasis Editions, 2010.
---. Reflections. Halifax, NS: Broken Jaw, 1987.
---. River Suite. Toronto, ON: Insomniac, 1998.
---. Rummaging for Rhinos. Ottawa, ON: Pooka, 1995.
---. Solstice. Fredericton, NB: Spare Time, 1994.
---. Space Station I. Fredericton, NB: Broken Jaw, 2003.
---. Space Station II. Fredericton, NB: Broken Jaw, 2005.
---. Stones of my Flesh. Salamanca 11. Fredericton, NB: Wild East, 1992.
---. Stuff, an Artist Book. Fredericton, NB: Spare Time, 1994.
---. Synopsis. Fredericton, NB: Book Rat, 1994.
---. Theatre Department: Cast Care. Fredericton, NB: Mad in Canada, 1995.
---. Trans-Canada Meditation. Fredericton, NB: Spare Time, 2000.
---. Tribeca. Poetry Chapbook Series 14. Maxville, ON: above/ground, 1997.
---. Twist Tie #2. Readcycle 6. Montreal, PQ: Fingerprinting Inkoporated, 1991.
---. Winter Solstice. Fredericton, NB: J. Blades, 1995.
---. Winter Solstice 1997. Fredericton, NB: Post Haste Card, 1995.
---. Wriding. Billet 5, Series 2. Maxville, ON: Above/Ground, 2000.
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Beardsworth, Adam. “Self-Assured Catastrophe.” Rev. of River Suite, by Joe Blades. Canadian Literature 187 (Winter 2005): 103-104.
McGillivary, Mary. “Blades, Joe, River Suite; Steeves, Andrew, Cutting the Devil’s Throat.” Journal of Canadian Poetry 15 (2000): 11-15.
Merlin, Kate. “Joe Blades: Poet, Publisher, Artist-on-Display.” Atlantic Books Today 46 (Winter 2004): 22.
Moulton-Barrett, Donalee. “Joe Blades: An Amazing Journey.” Cross-Canada Writers’ Quarterly 11.1 (1989): 3-4, 7.
Pantzar, Katja. “Inventive Minds, Powerful Stories [Canadian Fiction].” Quill & Quire 64 (1998): 24.