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Tuesday December 11, 2012 in Books

Vancouver Poems Then and Now

By Daphne Marlatt

Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now gathers many of the poems from Daphne Marlatt’s 1972 Vancouver Poems, somewhat revised or in some cases substantially revised, and follows them with “Liquidities,” a series of recent poems about Vancouver’s incessant deconstruction and reconstruction, its quick transformations both on the ground and in urban imagining.

Vancouver Poems were a young woman’s take on a young, West Coast port city as it surfaced to her gaze in the late 1960s. In these “re-visions,” it remains verbal snapshots, running associations, sounding locales and their passers-through within a shifting context of remembered history, terrain, and sensory experience. Phrases break open in successive instants of perception, moving outward to observation and inward to linguistic play. Irony shifts tonal levels and traces the effects of imported colonial culture paving over local indigenous cultures.

“Liquidities” (from liquid assets, cash): the slower, more introspective rhythms of the city some forty years ago speed up in this new series as wordplay intensifies to verbal collision. Images traffic faster, with quicker jumps through milieu and temporal strata. Forest terrain transforms to high-rise architecture. On edge, littoral, surfacing through the litter it leaves, the city’s genius wavers in and out of focus through its tidal marks of corporate progress and enduring poverty.

ISBN 13: 9780889227613 | ISBN 10: 889227616
6 W x 9.75 H inches | 96 pages
16.95 CAN / 16.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE000000
Paperback Edition


“… 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


2014 ReLit Awards, poetry category (shortlisted)

About the Contributors

Daphne Marlatt

Daphne Marlatt was at the centre of the West Coast poetry movement of the 1960s, studying at UBC and with many of Donald Allen’s New American Poets, most notably Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan. Her writing includes prose narratives on the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver and of Steveston and several poetry books. In early 2006, she was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished service to Canadian culture.


Daphne Marlatt
Edited by Susan Holbrook

[Reading Sveva cover]
Reading Sveva

Daphne Marlatt

Liquidities cover

Daphne Marlatt

Gull, The

Daphne Marlatt
Translated by Toyoshi Yoshihara

This Tremor Love Is

Daphne Marlatt

Selected Writing

Daphne Marlatt

Copyright Talonbooks 1963-2018



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