Born in South Africa, Norman Kester emigrated to Canada with his family in 1969 during the height of Apartheid. He received a full Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Scholarship and was educated at York University and the University of Western Ontario where he received his Masters in Library and Information Science.
His first major work, editing Liberating Minds: the Stories and Professional Lives of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Librarians and their Advocates, won praise from Library Journal. Canada Customs subsequently detained this work upon its publication in 1997.
Kester's second book is a post-colonial collection of love poetry with South African-Canadian themes. From Here to District Six: A South African memoir with new poetry, prose and other writings (2000), Kester's first book of poems, serves as a reconciliation of "his coloured family's anguished separation under apartheid and his maternal need to reclaim his lost African identity and emerging sexual desire."
Liquid Love and other longings: selected poems (2002), examines the meaning of love, its desperate pain and utter beauty. Written as an act of rage, passion and reconciliation, Kester's writings blur traditional boundaries of prose and poetry, richly interweaving memory, storytelling and history.
The poet has read and performed from his work at the University of Toronto and York University, local venues and bookstores in Toronto and San Francisco. A strong advocate for intellectual freedom and social justice, Kester is a member of the League of Canadian Poets and serves actively on the Canadian Book and Periodical Association's Freedom of Expression Committee. To commemorate the spirit of District Six, he established District Six Press in 1999 to publish the works of world writers without a voice in Canada.