Maxine Tynes - Biography

Born in 1949, Maxine Tynes grew up in Dartmouth and lived, taught, and wrote in the Halifax Regional Municipality, often the setting of her political and proactive poetry. She attended Dalhousie University, where she won the Dennis Memorial Poetry Prize and obtained her Bachelor of Education in 1975. Tynes taught high school English for thirty-one years. Black Loyalist heritage infuses her work, which is steeped in the oral traditions of the Black community. Often her voice takes on an activist tone, her rhythmic language akin to a rally call about numerous political issues, whether it be body image, feminism, racism, or living with disabilities. Tynes appeared on CBC’s Midday and Morningside with Peter Gzowski, and she also freelanced for the station. Her first poetry collection Borrowed Beauty (1987) received favourable reviews, eventually becoming a bestselling title. Later, she published two more adult collections, Woman Talking Woman (1990) and The Door Of My Heart (1993), as well as a children’s collection, Save The World For Me (1991). In 1988, she was awarded the Milton Acorn Award as People’s Poet of Canada. In 1992, Mount Saint Vincent University awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Tynes’s stature in her community was reflected by the fact that she was the first African Canadian member of Dalhousie’s—her alma mater’s—Board of Governors and that the Alderney Gate Library, honouring her close ties to Dartmouth, named the Maxine Tynes Room after her. Maxine Tynes died in 2011 of complications from post-polio syndrome at the age of 62. She said of her own work, "my poems, my poetry, are like mirrors reflecting back in great or subtle beams and shafts of light and words and images that are womanly and Black and brown and tan and full of the joy and pride in femaleness and in Black womanhood that I am."