Liquidities

By Daphne Marlatt

Liquidities
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In her "re-vision" of Vancouver Poems, originally published in 1972, Daphne Marlatt's additional lyrics trace countless transformations of a West Coast port city. In Vancouver's fast-moving, realty-driven reality, global business is conducted over "liquid lunches" and in the ... Read more


Overview

In her "re-vision" of Vancouver Poems, originally published in 1972, Daphne Marlatt's additional lyrics trace countless transformations of a West Coast port city. In Vancouver's fast-moving, realty-driven reality, global business is conducted over "liquid lunches" and in the midst of mounting social crises, including poverty, addiction, and homelessness.

Daphne Marlatt

Daphne 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. Her early literary associations with the loosely affiliated TISH group encouraged her nonconformist approach to language and form. Her unique disposition toward language shapes and is shaped by her commitment to exploring and honouring silenced histories and experiences. For her, writing has been a lifelong ethical project, deeply engaged with feminism, immigrant experiences, and ecological issues. Her innovations in the prose poem form have influenced an entire generation (and beyond) of Canadian poets.

Excerpt

after noon’s bill put paid to young and out of our heads with ecstasy driven re-current (over the hump that 1930s bridge) all-new drive or lift-off from collision with what’s closing in debt paralysis now light’s red they’re racketing through cost incline inclined to sail sign for mercurial sparks of evanescent brands we’re leaning into the wind of our passing on acrylic legs in line in rhythm in astro-visors unimaginable to those 1960s ones who jumped from bridge billboard ledge fourth avenue windows looking for seventhheaven’s magnolia flesh or sought a way out from (through) midnight’s evacuated depth sufficiently peopled with our own reflection tower on tower eclipse since Blackball’s splash since Peace Parades’ high hope it’s high enough for tugs at flood tide Taylor’s coach-lamp pillars raised a glow above that human flood some 7,000 in from RR yards the wangies stickers pokey stiffs with canned heat, crack now, flaring up through vein flambeaux or stained our mirror glass is electronic tweets ten secs at most gone Digital Native If you lived under this bridge you’d be home by now

Reviews

“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

“… 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

“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

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

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