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Thursday June 30, 2011 in Books


By Sachiko Murakami

In a city ironically famous for its natural setting, the roving subject’s gaze naturally turns upward, past the condo towers which frame the protected “view corridors” at the heart of Vancouver’s municipally- guaranteed development plan. But look for the city, and one encounters “a kind of standing wave of historical vertigo, where nothing ever stops or grounds one’s feet in free-fall.”

Murakami approaches the urban centre through its inhabitants’ greatest passion: real estate, where the drive to own is coupled with the practice of tearing down and rebuilding. Like Dubai, where the marina looks remarkably like False Creek, Vancouver has become as much a city of cranes and excavation sites as it is of ocean and landscape. Rebuild engraves itself on the absence at the city’s centre, with its vacant civic square and its bulldozed public spaces. The poems crumble in the time it takes to turn the page, words flaking from the line like the rain-damaged stucco of a leaky condominium.

The city’s “native” residential housing style now troubles the eye with its plainness, its flaunting of restraint, its ubiquity. What does it mean to inhabit and yet despise the “Vancouver Special”; to attempt to build poems in its style, when a lyric is supposed to be preciously unique, but similar, in its stanzas or “rooms,” to other lyric poems? What does it mean to wake from a dream in which one buys a presale in a condo development—and is disappointed to have awoken?

In the book’s final section, the poems turn inward, to the legacy left by Murakami’s father, who carried to his death the burden of the displaced and disinherited: the house seized by the government during WWII, having previously seized the land from its native inhabitants—a “mortgage” from which his family has never truly recovered.

ISBN 13: 9780889226708 | ISBN 10: 889226709
6 W x 9 H inches | 96 pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE011000, POE000000
Paperback Edition


“a unique and thoughtfully crafted book. … Surprisingly, these poems do not feel particularly rich in images or metaphor, but they are bold, political, and engaging. … The poems seem to expand and contract, looking up and around at the structures (both material and immaterial), and subsequently looking inward … It’s clear the poet trusts her readers to settle in, to stop reading, or to renovate, of our own choosing.”
The Fiddlehead

“Murakami has quickly demonstrated a remarkable range and ambition.”

“‘Did this happen, here? Did this/ really happen to me?’ Such a devastated hole gapes in narrative before a moment of potent reconfiguration, and it’s quite ­genius of Sachiko Murakami’s new collection, Rebuild, to pose a doubled speaker of agape grief: both the narrator who has lost a father in troubling circumstances, and the contemporary development-manic city itself, specifically glass-pocked Vancouver, lamenting its gutted and guttered wholeness (acknowledging that wholeness is a myth, yet another hole).”
– Margaret Christakos

“These are angry poems. Proud and angry. But smart and quirky, too, daring us to tear up our death pledge to real estate, and rethink our citizenship in scandalous cities. They ask hard questions about democracy, Olympic extravaganzas, police battalions and single feet that wash up on the beach. What is home in a state where the cost of a house would feed whole villages for years? […] Murakami brings us home to our senses.”
– Meredith Quartermain

“The poems in Rebuild strike at (the crack in) the heart of Vancouver. […] Murakami’s poetry performs erasure on itself, tries to renovate and rebuild. Something faster. Something better. Tears out consonant and vowel, post and beam, with dishwasher, writes elegy, writes condo, writes missing, writes return. Returns to scaffolding, to consonant, to the letters of her dead father’s name.”
– Nikki Reimer

About the Contributors

Sachiko Murakami

Sachiko Murakami is the author of the poetry collections The Invisibility Exhibit (Talonbooks, 2008), a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and Rebuild (Talonbooks, 2011). She is the creator of the online poetry projects Project Rebuild (projectrebuild.ca), HENKO (powellstreethenko.ca), WIHTBOAM (whenihavethebodyofaman.com), and co-creator of FIGURE (figureoracle.com), an online poetry oracle, with Angela Rawlings. Her website is sachikomurakami.com.

Get Me Out of Here

Sachiko Murakami

Rebuild cover

Sachiko Murakami

The Invisibility Exhibit

Sachiko Murakami

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