Richard Sanger was born in Manchester, England, to a Canadian mother and an English father, both journalists. After living in Kenya, Connecticut and Toronto, the family settled in Ottawa where his parents still live and he grew up, played hockey and soccer, ran and skied cross-country, wrote poems and attended bilingual high school. From 1977 to1987, he lived in Europe, completing a degree at the University of Edinburgh (Spanish and Philosophy), learnt languages, picked fruit in France, and taught English as a foreign language in southern Spain and West Berlin. This experience, along with his childhood travels, led to an abiding interest in languages and immigration . In 1987, he moved back to Canada where he began a doctorate in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto (on direct speech in 20th-century poetry completed in 1993) and first started to publish poems. In the mid-1990’s, he became involved in the Toronto theatre world through his wife, the actor Deborah Lambie, and began to write plays.
Not Spain, a two-hander inspired by the Balkan wars, premiered at Toronto’s Summerworks Festival in 1994, was nominated for the Chalmers Canadian Play and the Governor-General’s Literary Awards and has enjoyed productions and staged readings in Canada, the U.S. and Britain. Two Words for Snow, a two-act play, premiered in Calgary in 1999 and in Toronto in 2003, and was nominated for six Dora Awards in 2003 and the 2005 Governor-General’s Award. His translation of Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba was produced at the Shaw Festival in 2002; his verse translation of Lope de Vega’s classic Fuenteovejuna was published by Broadview in 2003 and produced in Toronto in 2006. He has also translated from French and German, and collaborated with musicians and composers on various works. His current projects include Whispering Pines, a new play commissioned by Nightswimming Theatre, and Vavilov’s Seeds, a play about the Russian plant geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov (1887-1943), commissioned by the Tarragon Theatre.
His first collection of poetry, Shadow Cabinet, was nominated for the 1996 Gerald Lampert Award; Calling Home, his second, came out in 2002. His poems have also appeared in many publications in Canada, Britain and the US, including Descant, Fiddlehead, London Review of Books, Poetry Review, and the Times Literary Supplement, and twice won the E.J. Pratt Prize. In addition, he has written essays and reviews for Books-in-Canada, Canadian Forum, The Globe and Mail, Poetry Review and the TLS, taught at the University of Toronto and York and been Writer-in-Residence at the universities of New Brunswick and Calgary.
He lives with his wife and two sons in Toronto.