Liliane (Meyer) Welch was born on 20 October 1937 to working class parents in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, a then-booming European iron and steel town. Welch completed her primary education at Lycee High School in Luxembourg and attended school in California as an exchange student in the 1950s. She received her BA and MA at the University of Montana and her PhD at Pennsylvania State University (1964), where she taught for several years. In 1967, Welch came to Canada, where she worked as a professor of French Studies at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. She worked there for over thirty years until she retired and became a professor emerita in 2004.
Welch began her writing career in the 1970s. Her early works, like the chapbook Winter Songs (1977), are coloured with first impressions of the new world, displaying images of cold crisp New Brunswick winters. Her poetry captures New Brunswick with the fresh perspective of someone from a different place. Like many immigrant writers, Welch was also drawn to writing of her childhood home. This trend is evident in later works like Seismographs: Selected Essays and Reviews (1988). Welch’s writing captures and blends the old world with her new home. Critics have observed that Welch’s poetry transports the reader to a dream-like reality, but one that remains in touch with everyday life.
An avid reader, Welch credited several writers with being her literary influences. The most notable of these are the French writers Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé; the German writer Rilke; the Italian writer Dante; and the American writers Faulkner and Dickinson. In This Numinous Bond (2003), she celebrates some of these writers who have influenced her own work.
Over her long and successful writing career, Welch was recognized for her work numerous times, her most prestigious awards being the Alfred Bailey Prize (1986) and the Bressani Prize (1992). In 1987, she won first prize in the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick literary competition. She received an honorable mention four times in the Amethyst Poetry Contest and won first prize in 1993. In 1994, she served as a juror for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.
Welch was a member of The League of Canadian Poets, The Federation of NB Writers, and a correspondent member of the L’Institut Grand-Ducal de Luxembourg. She divided her time between Europe and her home in Sackville, New Brunswick, where she resided with her husband, Cyril, until her death on 22 September 2010.
Andrea Bell, Winter 2008
St. Thomas University
bibliography of primary sources
Welch, Liliane. Anticipating the Day. Ottawa: Borealis, 2006.
---. Assailing Beats. Ottawa: Borealis, 1979.
---. Brush and Trunks. Fiddlehead Poetry Books. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1981.
---. Crossings. Ottawa: Borealis, 2010.
---. Dispensing Grace. Ottawa: Borealis, 2005.
---. Dream Museum. Victoria, BC: Sono Nis, 1995.
---. Fidelities. Ottawa: Borealis, 1997.
---. Fire to the Looms Below. Charlottetown, PEI: Ragweed, 1990.
---. Frescoes: Travel Pieces. Ottawa: Borealis, 1998.
---. From the Songs of the Artisans. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1983.
---. Gathered in Memory’s Hand. Ottawa: Borealis, 2006.
---. Life in Another Language. Dunvegan, ON: Cormorant, 1992.
---. Manstorna: Life on the Mountain. Charlottetown, PEI: Ragweed, 1985.
---. Mosaics: Music Scapes Words. Luxembourg: n.p., 1998.
---. October Winds. Fiddlehead Poetry Books 298. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1980.
---. The Rock’s Stillness. Ottawa: Borealis, 1999.
---. Seismographs: Selected Essays and Reviews. Ed. Richard Lemm. Charlottetown, PEI: Ragweed, 1988.
---. Stealing the Flowers of Evil. Ottawa: Borealis, 2008.
---. Syntax of Ferment. Fiddlehead Poetry Books 256. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1979.
---. A Taste for Words. Seven Times Five 2. Saint John, NB: Purple Wednesday Society, 1987.
---. This Numinous Bond. Ottawa: Borealis, 2003.
---. Unlearning Ice. Ottawa: Borealis, 2001.
---. Unrest Bound. Ed. Ken Hanly. Dollarpoems Ser. 2 No. 10. Brandon, MB: Pierian Press, 1985.
---. Untethered in Paradise. Ottawa: Borealis, 2002.
---. Von Menschen und Orten. llus. Ben Heyart. Trans. Nic Weber. Luxembourg: Éditions des Cahiers Luxembourgeois, 1992.
---. Winter Songs. Killaly Chapbooks 3rd Series no. 6. London, ON: Killaly Press, 1977.
---. Word-House of a Grandchild. Charlottetown, PEI: Ragweed, 1987.
Welch, Liliane and Cyril Welch. Emergence: Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rimbaud. State College, PA: Bald Eagle, 1973.
---. Address: Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Butor. Victoria, BC: Sono Nis, 1979.
bibliography of secondary sources
Bouraoui, Hédi. “Liliane Welch: A New Voice from the Maritimes.” In The Atlantic Anthology: Volume 3, Critical Essays. Ed. Terry Whalen. Toronto/Charlottetown, PEI: ECW Press/Ragweed Press, 1985. 240-50.
Compton, Anne. "Ascension. Liliane Welch talks about poetry.(poet Liliane Welch)(Interview)." Canadian Literature 166 (Autumn 2000): 127-141.
---. Meetings with Maritime Poets. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006.
Fiamengo, Janice. "Life in Another Language." Canadian Literature 137 (Summer 1993): 98-100.
Lynes, Jeanette, ed. Words Out There: Women Poets in Atlantic Canada. Lockeport, NS: Roseway, 1999. 111-116.
Martindale, Sheila. “Liliane Welch: the oxygen of written words staves off trivial thoughts.” Canadian Author & Bookman 68.1 (1992): 12.
Mount, Nick. "Dream Museum." The Dalhousie Review 75 (Summer-Fall 1995): 276-278.
Smith, E. Russell. "Unlearning ice." The Antigonish Review 129 (Spring 2002): 83-85.