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Michael Ondaatje was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on September 12, 1943, with Dutch / Indian ancestry. In 1954, he moved with his mother to England, and to Canada in 1962. He received his BA from the University of Toronto and his MA from Queen's University in Kingston.

Ondaatje is best known for the screen adaptation of his novel, The English Patient, which won nine Academy Awards in 1996, but his writing career began with poetry, much earlier.

After publishing The Dainty Monsters in 1967, and 1969's The Man With Seven Toes, Ondaatje created a strange hybrid of a book called The Collected Works of Billy the Kid in 1970. Comprised of poems, photos, interviews, flyers, songs, and diary entries, this book shared the Governor General's award for poetry with bpNichol's The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid and three other texts.

These were followed by Rat Jelly in 1973, Coming Through Slaughter in 1976, and Elimination Dance,'78. In 1979, he won the Governor-General award again for his book of poetry, There's a Trick With a Knife I'm Learning To Do.

These were followed by poetry collections, among them Secular Love, in 1984 and The Cinnamon Peeler, 1992. And novels; The English Patient , won the 1992 Booker Prize, and In the Skin of a Lion. And more poetry; Handwriting in 1999, and yet another novel in 2000, Anil's Ghost . This last was awarded the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, the Prix Medicis, the Governor General's Award and the Giller Prize.

Ondaatje has also made three films, one of them a film about bpNichol entitled Sons of Captain Poetry. In addition, he has written a marvelously colorful memoir, Running in the Family, of his childhood and growing up in Ceylon.

Ondaatje currently resides in Toronto with his wife, Linda Spalding, where they edit the literary journal Brick.

Props to
salon.com, and amazon.com

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