Paul Dutton was born in Toronto on December 29, 1943. His formal education, with a focus on music and languages, concluded with second-year university, after which he continued his studies as an autodidact. In the mid ’60s he embarked on a literary and performance career, placing his poetry in literary magazines, acting in amateur theatre, and singing traditional British folk music in coffee houses. In 1970, after briefly exploring solo sound poetry, Dutton joined with bpNichol, Steve McCaffery, and Rafael Barreto-Rivera to form the poetry performance group The Four Horsemen, whose reputation spread swiftly throughout Canada and beyond. The group ended after the death of Nichol in 1988.
Throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s, Dutton pursued his solo writing and performance in tandem with his Four Horsemen collaboration and with work in the book publishing industry as a copyeditor, copywriter, and promotions manager. His first two books appeared in 1979, and seven years later he left the publishing industry to devote his energies full time to literature and music, doing freelance copyediting and writing for hire on the side.
In 1989, Dutton joined the free-improvisation band CCMC, which has evolved to a quartet comprising Dutton (soundsinging and harmonica), Michael Snow (piano and synthesizer), John Oswald (alto sax), and John Kamevaar (percussion and electronics).
Paul Dutton has published six books of poetry and a novel. His poetry, short fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in a multitude of magazines, literary journals, and anthologies, nationally and internationally. In addition to his print publications he has released recordings of his poetry and music in solo and ensemble contexts, and has toured throughout Canada and across the US, Europe, and South America, appearing at literary and music festivals, in concert halls, galleries, theatres, clubs, universities and schools, on radio, TV, film, and the Web. He is considered among the world’s leading exponents of sound poetry and oral sound art. He continues to live in Toronto, giving local, national, and international literary performances, working on new poetry, fiction, and essays, and performing solo and collaborative free-improvisational music in concert and on recordings.