William Hawkins, Canadian poet, Died at 76


William Alfred Hawkins was born on May 20, 1940, and died on July 4, 2016.

He was a Canadian songwriter, poet, musician and journalist.

He was most notable for his contributions in the 1960s to Canadian folk rock music and to Canadian poetry.

Hawkins best known song was “Gnostic Serenade”, originally recorded by 3’s a Crowd.

His original interests were as a poet, which he spoke of in the summer of 1963, through attending an intensive writing course for aspiring poets offered by the English department of the University of British Columbia.

That particular course became known as the Vancouver 1963 Poetry Conference, which took place over a period of three weeks in July and August, and involved approximately sixty attendees.

The course were designed by Warren Tallman and Robert Creeley, involved a juries assessment of a student’s work, with invited faculty members including Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson and Robert Duncan.

The other attendees included Denise Levertov, Margaret Avison and Philip Whalen.

In 1964, Hawkins commenced publishing his poems, and enjoyed early success.

At that point, three of his poems were selected by A.J.M. Smith for inclusion in his prestigious 1967 anthology, Modern Canadian Verse.

Also, William became known for hosting and participating in poetry readings by major Canadian poets of the time, including Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen, Louis Dudek, Raymond Souster, Gwendolyn MacEwan, Jacques Godbout and John Robert Colombo.

In 1965, William Hawkins began his music career as a member of The Children, a seminal Canadian band, based out of Ottawa.

Himself and other band members included Sneezy Waters, Sandy Crawley and Neville Wells and, in later versions, Bruce Cockburn, David Wiffen and Richard Patterson.

Chaudière Books published The Collected Poems of William Hawkins, in 2015, edited and with a comprehensive introduction by Cameron Anstee

William Hawkins passed away at 76 years old.