Poetry City: Let's get physical in Northern BC and Alberta

April 9, 2014

Today we head north to the rural cities of Northern British Columbia and Alberta. A very physical place where many people work with the land, "Topography" by Sarah de Leeuw is a very physical poem that has been extracted from the collection Geographies of a Lover (NeWest Press), which won the Dorothy Livesay Award in 2013.

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Today we head north to the rural cities of Northern British Columbia and Alberta. A very physical place where many people work with the land, "Topography" by Sarah de Leeuw is a very physical poem that has been extracted from the collection Geographies of a Lover (NeWest Press), which won the Dorothy Livesay Award in 2013.

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Notes on Topography from Sarah de Leeuw

Extracted from a long single-book-length poem focused on loss, mourning, and raw sexual human relationships to each other and to specific, mappable, places around the globe, the poem "Topography" concerns resource-extracting communities in Northern British Columbia. "Topography," a geographic concept pertaining to places or regions on a map and their positions and elevations, is about the ups and downs of pipelines and oil sands in Northern British Columbia and Alberta. It is also about the flatness and the peaks of bodies making love, of people leaving each other, and of life in transient always transitioning boom-and-bust rural cities, particularly cities like Prince George and Burns Lake.

About Geographies of a Lover

Drawing inspiration from such diverse works as Pauline Réage’s The Story of O and Marian Engel’s Bear, poet Sarah de Leeuw uses the varied landscape of Canada—from the forests of North Vancouver through the Rocky Mountains, the prairies, and all the way to the Maritimes—in Geographies of a Lover to map the highs and lows of an explicit and raw sexual journey, from earliest infatuation to insatiable obsession and beyond.

About poet Sarah de Leeuw

Sarah de Leeuw is a human geographer. She has a PhD in historical-cultural geography, and is currently an assistant professor with the Northern Medical Program at UNBC, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. De Leeuw grew up on Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii (The Queen Charlotte Islands), then lived in Terrace, BC. She returned to northern BC after spending four years in Ontario, then lived and worked in Arizona as a visiting Fulbright Scholar with the University of Arizona. She earned a BFA from the University of Victoria, after which she spent time teaching English in South Korea. She has also worked as a tug boat driver, women’s centre coordinator, logging camp cook, and a journalist and correspondent for Connections Magazine and CBC Radio’s BC Almanac. Her previous book, Unmarked, was published in 2004.

Want to learn more about Sarah? Check out this 12 or 20 Questions with rob mclennan here.

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"de Leeuw’s style addresses a void in the landscape of Canadian poetry—language that is confidently and startlingly sexual—and offers a fresh take on the allegory of human-relationship-as-geography." —Emily McGiffin, ARC Poetry Magazine

"Geographies of a Lover is a living map that charts a journey into the sad and fiery experience of illicit love. Its writing is rhythmic, intense, and passionate, a true eco-erotic text that fuses the lonely carnality of body with the vulnerable vastness of continental landscapes."  —Nancy Holmes, author of Mandorla

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Edited from the original post, published on the LPG blog


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