Murray Reiss’s first full-length collection, The Survival Rate of Butterflies in the Wild, won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for the best first book published in 2013. His second collection, Cemetery Compost, was published in 2016. His poetry and prose have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Canada and the United States, including Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry and Poems from Planet Earth. A handsewn chapbook, Distance From the Locus, was published by Mother Tongue Press in 2005. Reiss brings his poetry to life on the stage as well as the page as a Climate Action Performance Poet and founding member of the Only Planet Cabaret.
Over the years, Murray has been active in human rights work, as a coordinator for Amnesty International; environmentalism, as a grantwriter for the Georgia Strait Alliance and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, coordinator of the Salt Spring Island Water Council, and troublemaker with the campaign to save 5,000 acres on south Salt Spring from wanton development; and international solidarity work as B.C. coordinator for Tools for Peace. He’s committed civil disobedience at a BOMARC nuclear missile base in Quebec and sat beside the tracks outside the Trident submarine base outside Bangor, Washington — experiences that helped inspire his most recent book, Dress Store at the End of the World, currently in search of a publisher.
Murray Reiss was born and grew up in Sarnia, Ontario (its oil refineries and his father’s dress store both figure in his new book, Dress Store at the End of the World, currently making the rounds of poetry publishers) and has lived on Salt Spring Island since 1979, with his wife Karen, a ceramic sculptor.