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Donald Winkler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Donald Winkler
Donald Winkler

Alma materUniversity of Manitoba
Yale School of Drama
OccupationFilmmaker, Translator
Spouse(s)Sheila Fischman
AwardsGovernor General's Award

Donald Winkler (born 1940) is a Canadian documentary filmmaker and French-to-English literary translator.[1][2] He lives in Montreal with his wife Sheila Fischman.[3]

Life and career

Early life

Winkler was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and grew up loving theatre.[4] He was introduced to French through his mother who studied the language in Romania before coming to Canada when she was fifteen years old.[1] As a student, he took French courses alongside his literary studies at the University of Manitoba where he graduated in 1961.[1] He also went on to do graduate studies at the Yale School of Drama.[2] In his early twenties, he spent a year and a half in Paris teaching English where he enjoyed watching films at the Cinématheque and the little Latin Quarter art houses.[4] When he returned to Canada, he was drawn to Montreal because, for him, it was "the only city in the country at that time cosmopolitan enough".[4] The city was also the headquarters for the National Film Board of Canada, where Winkler first began making films.[4] He applied for an apprenticeship position that did not require film experience and was hired in 1967 when one of the three initial applicants declined the offer.[4] He learned the trade on the job and within a couple of years, began working on his first film.[4]

Film career

Winkler has been an independent filmmaker since leaving the National Film Board where he worked as a documentary film director and writer from 1967 to 1995.[1] His films primarily deal with the arts and culture in Canada.[1] He wrote and directed a number of films that look into the lives of Canadian playwrights, writers and musicians such as Irving Layton, F. R. Scott, P. K. Page, Al Purdy, Earle Birney, Ralph Gustafson and Tomson Highway.[1] In the year 2005, he entered his three films: Moshe Safdie: The Power of Architecture, The Pines of Emily Carr and The Colour of Memory: Conversations with Guido Molinari into the International Festival of Films on Art in Montreal.[5]


Winkler first began translating Quebec literature in the late 1980s.[2] Although he never studied translation, he has since translated over 25 works including novels, poetry and essays.[6][7] He is a member of the Literary Translators' Association of Canada.[8] Carmine Starnino describes Winkler as "one of [Canada's] most gifted and highly decorated practitioners."[9] Winkler describes the process of translation as "a constant quest for perfect pitch" and a "sophisticated word game".[3][6] A successful translation, in his words, gives readers "some sense of what it’s like to be in another culture’s skin".[6] His translations have been described as "seamless" and "wonderful".[10][11] Sheila Fischman, his spouse, is also an award-winning translator. He describes her as the "doyenne of Canadian literary translation".[3]

Awards and nominations

Donald Winker has won the Governor General's Award for Translation three times:

  • in 1994, for The Lyric Generation: The Life and Times of the Baby-Boomers by François Ricard,
  • in 2011, for Partitia for Glenn Gould by Georges Leroux,
  • and in 2013, for The Major Verbs by Pierre Nepveu.

His work was also nominated for the Governor General's Award on three separate occasions.[12][13]

Donald Winkler was nominated for the Giller Prize twice:

In addition, he won the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s Cole Foundation Translation Prize for his translation of The Major Verbs by Pierre Nepveu,[2] and in 1987, he received an honorable mention at the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada’s John Glassco Prize for Literary Translation for his translation entitled Rose and Thorn: The Selected Poetry by Roland Giguère.[16] Winkler's translation of Arvida by Samuel Archibald was also short-listed for the 2016 Best Translated Book Awards.[17]

List of Translations[18]

Title Author Year
And God Created the French Louis-Bernard Robitaille 1997
Are You Married to a Psychopath? Nadine Bismuth 2010
Arvida Samuel Archibald 2015
A Secret Between Us Daniel Poliquin 2007
Conversations with Jean-Paul Riopelle Gilbert Erouart and Jean-Paul Riopelle 1995
Crac Paul Savoie 2016
Eucalyptus Mauricio Segura 2013
Exile Gilles Vigneault 2010
Forty-Seven Stations for a Ravaged Town Jacques Rancourt 2015
In the Name of the Father Daniel Poliquin 2001
Jeanniot: Taking Aviation to New Heights Jacqueline Cardinal and Laurent Lapierre 2013
Latest News from the Cosmos Hubert Reeves 1997
Malicorne Hubert Reeves 1993
Montcalm & Wolfe: Two Men Who Forever Changed the Course of Canadian History Roch Carrier 2014
Of Jesuits and Bohemians Jean-Claude Germain 2014
Partitia for Glenn Gould Georges Leroux 2010
Pluriel: An Anthology of Diverse Voices Various authors 2008
Romans Fleuves Pierre Nepveu 1998
Rose and Thorn: The Selected Poetry by Roland Giguère Roland Giguère 1988
Rue Fabre: Centre of the Universe Jean-Claude Germain 2012
Terracide Hubert Reeves 2009
The Bad Mother Marguerite Andersen 2016
The Lyric Generation: The Life and Times of the Baby-Boomers François Ricard 1994
The Major Verbs Pierre Nepveu 2012
The Storm Léon Courville 1995
The Universe Explained to my Grandchildren Hubert Reeves 2012
The World of the Gift Jacques T. Godbout 1998
To the Spring, by Night Seyhmus Dagtekin 2013
You Will Love What You Have Killed Kevin Lambert 2020

Further reading



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Donald Winkler". Kingston WritersFest. 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d "Biography". Donald Winkler. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Russell Brunet, Julien (December 5, 2013). "Donald Winkler: An interview with the winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Translation". The Walrus. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Alexander, Geoff. "Donald Winkler". AFA. Academic Film Archive of North America. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  5. ^ Griffin, John (March 5, 2005). "And Winkler Makes Three". ProQuest. The Gazette. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Willems, Benjamin (2014). "A Shadow on Plato's Wall: Benjamin Willems in Conversation with Donald Winkler". The Malahat Review. University of Victoria. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  7. ^ "Translations". Donald Winkler. Donald Winkler. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  8. ^ "Directory of Members". ATTLC. Literary Translator’s Association of Canada. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  9. ^ Starnino, Carmine (June 9, 2015). "Why the book I'm about to publish will be ignored". Partisan Magazine. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  10. ^ Q&Q Staff. "2015: Books of the Year". Quill and Quire. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  11. ^ Siemens, Gnaomi (November 30, 2015). "Oh Canada: Donald Winkler's New Translation of Samuel Archibald's Arvida". Asymptote Journal. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  12. ^ "English-Language Winners of the Governor General's Literary Awards 1936-2014" (PDF). Governor General’s Literary Awards. Canada Council for the Arts. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  13. ^ "Cumulative List of Winners of the Governor General's Literary Awards" (PDF). Canada Council for the Arts. 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 20, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  14. ^ Donnelly, Pat (November 4, 2007). "Newspaper Story Sparked Novel Idea for York; Polygamy Piece Led Giller Nominee to Mountain Meadows Massacre". Calgary Herald. Retrieved November 16, 2016 – via Proquest.
  15. ^ Medley, Mark (October 6, 2015). "Giller Prize Announces Shortlist, which Includes Short Fiction and a Work-in-Translation". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 16, 2016 – via Proquest.
  16. ^ "John Glassco Translation Prize |". Archived from the original on 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  17. ^ Post, Chad (April 19, 2016). "2016 Best Translated Book Award Finalists!". Three Percent. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  18. ^ "Translations | Donald Winkler". Retrieved 2016-11-16.
This page was last edited on 25 April 2022, at 18:49
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