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Posted: Tuesday March 23, 2010
Daphne Marlatt

Daphne Marlatt was born in Melbourne in 1941 and spent much of her childhood in Malaysia before emigrating to Canada in 1951. Marlatt was at the centre of the West Coast poetry movement of the 1960s, studying at the University of British Columbia and with many of Donald Allen’s New American Poets, most notably Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan. Much of her postmodernist writing would be attuned to the adjustments, struggles, and accomplishments of immigrants. While Marlatt attended UBC (1960–1964), her literary associations with the loosely affiliated Tish group encouraged her non-conformist approach to language and etymological explorations.

She was a co-founding editor of two literary magazines: periodics and Tessera. She co-edited West Coast Review, Island, Capilano Review, and TISH. In 2004 she was appointed as the first writer-in-residence at Simon Fraser University in three decades. She directed the Fiction stream of the Banff Writing Studio from 2010 – 2012.

Her early writing includes prose narratives on the Strathcona neighborhood of Vancouver and of the former Japanese-Canadian fishing village of Steveston, and several poetry books. Selected Writing: Network is a collection of her prose and poetry, published in 1980. More of her writing can be found in The New Long Poem Anthology: 2nd Edition (2000), edited by Sharon Thesen. Daphne Marlatt’s This Tremor Love Is (2001) is a memory book – an album of love poems spanning twenty-five years, from her first writing of what was to become the opening section, A Lost Book, to later, more recent sequences.

Marlatt has been a featured poet on the Heart of a Poet series, produced in conjunction with Bravo! TV. Her recent work includes The Gull, the first Canadian play staged in the ancient, ritualized tradition of Japanese noh theatre, and winner of the prestigious 2008 Uchimura Naoya Prize.

In 2006, Marlatt was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished service to Canadian culture. In 2009, she was awarded the Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry, for her innovative long poem The Given, and in 2012 she received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.

Photograph of Daphne Marlatt courtesy Roy Miki.

LATEST Daphne Marlatt NEWS

March 2018 : Poetry readings across Canada this week

December 2017 : Daphne Marlatt’s collected earlier poems have come ashore

November 2017 : Join us for the launch of Daphne Marlatt’s Collected Earlier Poems

March 2017 : Thank you, poetry lovers of the eastern US!

March 2017 : All-Star Talon poets on tour in the eastern U.S.

February 2017 : Join Daphne Marlatt and M.A.C. Farrant in Calgary this Thursday

October 2016 : Our Fall 2016 books are launched!

October 2016 : Tomorrow: Talon’s big fall launch!

October 2016 : All the Fall 2016 poetry is in the house!

September 2016 : Photos from WORD Vancouver 2016

July 2016 : Fall 2016 previews!

November 2015 : Scree is launched! Watch the video, see the photos

September 2015 : Fred Wah sure is busy these days

May 2015 : Authors for Indies Day! Tomorrow (Saturday, May 2)

March 2015 : Our Literary Landmarks: Marlatt, Rule, and Bowering

February 2015 : Today on the Mountain: the Daphne Marlatt Archive Inauguration

February 2015 : Q&Q Shouts Out to Meredith Quartermain and Jordan Abel

December 2014 : 2014 ReLit Award Nominations

November 2014 : Launched! Our Fall 2014 “Septuplets”

November 2014 : New Arrivals, Right on Time for Tonight’s Launch

January 2014 : Lunch Poems with Daphne Marlatt and Jordan Scott Delight

September 2013 : Tens of Thousands Participate in Vancouver Reconciliation Walk



2014 ReLit Awards, poetry category (shortlisted)


Gull, The

Winner of the prestigious 2008 Uchimura Naoya Prize


This Tremor Love Is

Finalist for the 2002 BC Book Prize: Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize



Intertidal is the breathtaking shoreline of forty years of poetic practice. Daphne Marlatt has, more than any other Canadian poet, sustained an osmosis with poetic language that is profound in its attention to the literal and the littoral. Her perception of the adjacency of words and syllables is intense and, as the range of this collection attests, she has applied this acuity to reveal the minute and the truthful of the drift of a life, local and personal. For Marlatt, the coast is more than a line.”
—Fred Wah

“In Marlatt, there is such acuity of hush and cadence: she has a way of inhabiting sound that is space inhabiting her body, become ours, readerly – an equilibrium held on the quiet fulcrum of “listen” that is also “glisten,” a gamma complexity whether in England or Malaysia, in Steveston or on Vancouver’s Powell Street. She is a poet of crucial importance.”
—Erín Moure

“Marlatt is a singular voice in Canadian poetry. It’s a pleasure to encounter the early work and be reminded of the breadth of her journey.”
—Sina Queyras


Reading Sveva

"In writing that brilliantly combines historry, narrative, ekphrasis, imagination, and speculaion, Marlatt creates a reader’s version of Caetani’s life… Marlatt’s poems embody a generous attention to details that unfold into worlds."— Capilano Review

“In Reading Sveva, Daphne Marlatt meets a kindred spirit in Sveva Caetani (1917–1994), a visual artist who, with originality equal to Marlatt’s own, strove to dissolve the same binary concepts that have preoccupied the poet and novelist throughout her career. … The poems are neither commentary, nor interpretation, nor do they evaluate or judge. Rather, they represent the summoning of one artist’s intuitive knowledge of another artist’s being. … At their most powerful, Marlatt’s poems conduct a kind of running interview with Sveva, addressing her as ‘you,’ quoting her own writings back to her in a new context.”
Pacific Rim Review of Books

“Everything that Marlatt has published is instinct with caring, intelligence and a feel for technical innovation.”
Toronto Star

“Marlatt’s language conveys a rich sensuality, a sensibility honed to a fine edge.”
—Judith Fitzgerald



“… more recent works, read alongside the earlier ones, provide a kind of relief topography of the ways in which neo-liberal globalization and demographic shifts have transformed Vancouver … the new volume demonstrates how Marlatt’s understanding of the local has changed, and how her syntax and line, rooted in the rapid deviations and juxtapositions of the earlier work, continue to correspond to a ‘shifting context of remembered history, terrain, and sensory experience,’ as she puts it. … if Liquidities speaks to the difference within both the writer and her city, it also attests to their continuities.”
– Quill & Quire

“In addressing the current state of her city, Daphne Marlatt has renovated her 1972 Vancouver Poems. Liquidities enhances Marlatt’s incisive poetics of the “re-,“ posited earlier in the recuperative Salvage (1991), by reshaping this ongoing composition into the “then” and “now” of both city and poem. The brilliance in her restoration is to tease the “litter” from the “littoral,” posing questions at the edges of a local that is incessantly being transformed. These poems restore our amazement when the city replies: Je est un autre.”
– Fred Wah

“Daphne Marlatt’s startling syntax cadences each phrase of Liquidities, structures its pages and tones, and grounds its music in particulars: rain, trees, streets, cafés. Embracing her Vancouver Poems of 1972, Marlatt’s new book of water rises and reverberates with signs of how life is made and unmade by contact with the tidal lands on which the city lives. The gentle knotted threads and spacings of her lines evince a poetic that is absolutely non-hierarchical, non-dominating. Liquidities enacts the very breath of a coastal city. It captures the margins of Vancouver’s economies, the tenacity of human presence, and an ethos of respect for all life that is a heritage of its First Nations, whose values still endure. ‘Marlatt,’ Elisa Sampedrín has said, ‘is perhaps the real inventor of little theatres. Her work on water is a necessary precedent to my own.’”
– Erín Moure

Liquidities flows from one of the most deeply felt books of poetry I know, Vancouver Poems, in which each line is acutely tuned to a city of restless words, restless water, and restless ghosts. In this new work, Daphne Marlatt revisits Vancouver Poems —they’re as marvellous and rigorous and provocative as ever—and draws us into the present, acknowledging and invoking the spirit of this place and transforming the barking of conquest and commerce into a language of rage, humility, inclusion, and love. It’s an extraordinary achievement.”
– Colin Browne

“Everything Marlatt has published is instinct with caring, intelligence, and a feel for technical innovation.”
– Ken Adachi

“Marlatt’s language conveys a rich sensuality, a sensibility honed to a fine edge.”
– Judith Fitzgerald

“Marlatt’s lines are as fluid and lyrical as in her early work, but their embedded perspectives offer further identification by introducing monosyllables as in ‘marine ah / body of water you came wet you / [. . .] elle ll a live oh.’ These jarring sighs not only draw attention to the inadequacy of language when expressing the recollection of a memory, or disappointment, but they also emphasize habitual reactions, points of relief, comfort – and dissolution.”
Canadian Literature


Gull, The

“A masterpiece.”
— International Theatre Institute, UNESCO


This Tremor Love Is

"Marlatt’s tone is quiet but confident, questioning, dissonant, dissident, full of oppositions: detached yet passionate, tender but unsentimental, vulnerable but aloof. And while feminist, intellectual undertones are never far from the surface, there is a playfulness and a sensuality present in many of the poems."
– The Gig

“This collection is skillfully woven together.”
– Amerasia Review

"An intelligent approach to the personal and the poetic."

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