David Adams Richards
David Adams Richards was UNB’s fifth writer-in-residence from September 1983 to April 1986. He is known mainly for his fiction writing on the working class people of Miramichi in New Brunswick, and was the recipient of the 1989 Governor General’s Award for English-Language Fiction with his novel Nights Below Station Street. Douglas Featherling would note that “his depiction of inarticulate men and women as complicated being well worth exploring is authentic without ever being sensationalistic.” However, Richards himself has said that poverty and region are not the cornerstones of his work. Instead, he claims his work is mostly about the spiritual courage of his small-town characters.
After Alden Nowlan’s death in 1983, Richards became a prime candidate for UNB’s writer residency, as he was well known by UNB English professors Fred Cogswell and Robert Gibbs. Additionally, Richards’ writing was recognised throughout the Maritimes and Canada more broadly. After a two week residency at Mount Allison in January of 1983, Richards became UNB’s writer in residency in September of the same year. It appears that not many students met with Richards; in his biography David Adams Richards of the Miramichi, St. Thomas professor Tony Tremblay says, “…his presence was secondary to the professional academic literacy practiced at the university. Students knew he was there, but few sought him out.” In an interview withBooks in Canada from September 1993, Richards comments about his time as a writer-in-residence at UNB and other universities: “…I don’t think you can teach writing. You can, I suppose, point out mistakes that writers probably know in their heart of hearts that they’ve made. And that’s fine. But part of the discovery of your own voice, I think, is the ability to be allowed to make your own mistakes… I’ve made this clear to young writers I’ve come in contact with – write how you feel, not how someone tells you to feel.”
While Richards might not have met with many students during his residency, he kept busy with other tasks that would make him an important public figure for the university. Richards attended the annual meeting of the Federation of New Brunswick Writers on April 28, 1984, and was featured in a reading for the proceeding festival on the 29th. Richards was also a part of the jury for the Canada Council arts ‘B’ grant in June of the same year. Other notable events for Richards included a guest lecturer series at The New Orleans Center for Public Arts in March of 1985, and inclusion in the International Festival of Authors in 1986.
David Adams Richards took on the title of writer-in-residence after Alden Nowlan's death, and was succeeded by Douglas Glover. Additionally, John Hearne held the title for a fall semester in 1985.
UA Case 191; Section 2; David Adams Richards
Tremblay, Tony. David Adams Richards of the Miramichi.Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010. eBook.
© UNB Archives & Special Collections, 2014