Carl Leggo

Raised so far


All my emotions and experiences, all my hopes and desires, are steeped in poetry. I live in poetry, and poetry lives in me.
– Dr. Carl Leggo

Scholars, poets, teachers and students across Canada who know Carl Leggo speak of experiencing a particular ‘Leggo’ phenomenon––hearing his voice while reading a poem or essay he’s written. Even for those who have never heard him speak, the intimacy and nuance of his writing perform off the page in Carl’s evocative, Newfoundland lilt. New and established scholars alike can follow his remarkable repertoire of scholarship and converse with Carl across his contributions to Canadian curriculum studies, narrative and poetic inquiry, life writing, autobiography, teacher education, and arts-based research. Carl’s collaborative projects in métissage bring yet richer and messier threads of multiple voices that, as he says, “contribute to the constitution of understanding and connection.”

Carl’s homeland, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, turns up in his scholarship, reminding us of cultural roots and relationships, perhaps remembered as snippets and “perpendicular” angles. “When I was a boy, my parents burned coal in the little house on Lynch’s Lane.” Carl worked as a teacher for nine years in Newfoundland, beginning in 1976 with forty-eight grade 7 students. “I had a lot of clothes from Tip Top, and a couple degrees from Memorial University…I had been married two years and I owned a new Chevy truck.” At the same time, he wrote his master’s thesis for the University of New Brunswick. Carl went on to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta, and later claimed, “I have lived all my life in school…”

Indeed, education lived in Carl. He joined the University of British Columbia in 1990 and has spent his career there in the Department of Language and Literacy Education. Carl’s long history of service at UBC follows his spirited and generous commitment to students and colleagues. Twenty years ago, Carl served as administrator for the Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction, two decades after its first Director, Ted Aoki, a significant mentor to him. Carl heard the word “minister” inside the tedious work of administration, which meant for him “to care for” or “look after.” Carl has always looked after graduate students, nurturing their creative capacities and preoccupations. The many graduate and undergraduate students, beginning and practicing teachers who have worked with Carl, carry his pedagogy of care forward.

UBC acknowledged Carl’s notable achievements as scholar, mentor, teacher and artist on many occasions with several eminent awards: The Ted T. Aoki Award for Distinguished Service in Canadian Curriculum Studies (2013), The Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring (2012), The Sam Black Award for Excellence in Education and Development in the Visual and Performing Arts (2001), and The Killam Teaching Award, Faculty of Education (1995). Carl has co-organized two cutting-edge conferences in education over several years: The International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry (with published anthologies) and Provoking Curriculum.

Carl’s writing across decades and topics remains fresh, holding the world of life and learning under poetic light. His poetry books include: Sailing in a Concrete Boat: A Teacher’s Journey; Growing Up Perpendicular on the Side of a Hill; View from My Mother’s House; and Come-By-Chance. As a scholar, Carl’s body of work includes co-authored books: Speaking of Learning; Life Writing and Literary Métissage as an Ethos for Our TimesSpeaking of Teaching; and Hearing Echoes. Carl’s co-edited books feature diverse scholarship in education: Canadian Curriculum Studies: A Métissage of Inspiration/Imagination/Interconnection; Being with A/r/tography; Creative Expression, Creative Education; Arresting Hope: Women Taking Action in Prison Health Inside Out; Arts-based and Contemplative Practices in Research and Teaching: Honoring Presence; A Heart of Wisdom: Life Writing as Empathetic Inquiry; and Teacher Research in the Backyard. Fortunately, a new anthology holds many of his own texts he has chosen to share, Storying the World: The Contributions of Carl Leggo to Language and Literacy.

And, Carl’s writing and life embrace love.

“Recently I saw another motto: Love, Laugh, Live. My third granddaughter, Gwenoviere is a year old. She laughs all the time. Yesterday she was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, I Love Papa. Of course, I laughed loudly too. Imagine if my yearbook motto had been: Love, Laugh, Live. Delightful alliteration! Strong wisdom! I might have composed a different life story with a different motto. Of course, I don’t know what would have happened in school if I was devoted to love, laughter and living! Sounds dangerous!”


The impact of your support

In Dr. Carl Leggo’s memory, the Carl Leggo Graduate Scholarship in Arts-Based Inquiry Fund has been established by colleagues and friends at UBC.

Your gift will pay tribute to Carl’s life and many contributions to UBC, by supporting a Masters or PhD student who is pursing arts-based inquiry as part of their graduate thesis research.

Share this page with friends and family