Bronwen Wallace (1945-1989) was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 1945. Bronwen Wallace attended Queen's University, Kingston (B.A. 1967, M.A. 1969). In 1970, she moved to Windsor, Ontario, where she founded a women's bookstore and became active in working class and women's activist groups. In 1977, she returned to Kingston, where she worked at a women's shelter and taught at St. Lawrence College and Queen's. She wrote a weekly column for the Kingston Whig-Standard. In 1988, she was writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario.
Her collections testify to her social activism involving women's rights, civil rights, and social policy. A primary focus of her work was violence against women and children: “I wish I could show you / what a man's anger makes / of a woman's face, / or measure the days it takes / for her to emerge from a map of bruises / the colour of death.” (from “The Stubborn Particulars of Grace”)
In a series of letters written between 1985 and 1987, renowned Canadian poet Erin Mouré and Bronwen Wallace discuss feminist theory. Mouré defends the language philosophers (particularly Wittgenstein) who demonstrate that our speech, and the concepts expressible in language, governs our knowledge and actions. However, Wallace disagreed that language-centred writing rescues women from the patriarchy, claiming that it can be easily co-opted by patriarchs. Society’s use of politically correct language bears this out. Wallace believed that by engaging her readers in the issues of violence, she could provoke change in the reader and hence in society.
The Bronwen Wallace Memorial Prize, funded by friends of the poet and the Writers Trust of Canada, is an annual prize given to a young, promising poet or fiction writer who is under the age of 35, unpublished, and just beginning one's writing life.