Lullabies in the Real World

By Meredith Quartermain

Lullabies in the Real World
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Meredith Quartermain’s Lullabies in the Real World is a sequence of poems about a train journey from West Coast to East Coast that invokes a patchwork of regions, voices and histories. Her language zings with train rhythms as she unfolds a complex conversation with poets such ... Read more


Overview

Meredith Quartermain’s Lullabies in the Real World is a sequence of poems about a train journey from West Coast to East Coast that invokes a patchwork of regions, voices and histories. Her language zings with train rhythms as she unfolds a complex conversation with poets such as bpNichol and Robin Blaser.

This collection reflects and refracts Canada from diverse angles, and challenges colonizing literatures such as the Odyssey and various canonical British and US voices. As it moves from west to east, the book journeys back in time to interrogate historical events such as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the exclusion of Acadians. It ends by imagining a time before or outside colonization.

Rich, playful and confrontational, Lullabies in the Real World widens the poetic lens of poetry to investigate the place of a colonial nation in history, and the place of a poet vis-à-vis the voices of other poets.

Meredith Quartermain

Meredith Quartermain is known across Canada for her award-winning, cross-genre writing. Vancouver Walking won the BC Book Award for poetry Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, Nightmarker was a finalist for the Vancouver Book Award, and Recipes from the Red Planet, her book of flash-fictions, was a finalist for a BC Book Prize. In Rupert’s Land, her first novel, a town girl helps a residential-school runaway in Alberta in the 1930s.

Quartermain was the 2012 Writer in Residence at the Vancouver Public Library, where she led workshops on songwriting and writing about neighborhoods, and enjoyed doing manuscript consultations with many writers from the Greater Vancouver community. She’s now continuing these activities as Poetry Mentor in the Writer’s Studio Program at Simon Fraser University.

She has taught English at the University of British Columbia and Capilano College and led workshops at the Naropa Summer Writing Program, the Kootenay School of Writing, and the Toronto New School of Writing.

Excerpt

On a pushing shifting thought-train

cross the delta into mountains
mark the trampled snow
follow, don’t follow, make it new
follow the tracks the breath prints
foretellers’ rails down a rabbit hole
blood at a votive pit, a slashed throat
speak, Holy Forester
speak, Horseman Martyrologist
speak of the Ill-, the Disunhoused,
unfed, under bridge’s
fan of guy wires lacing concrete ribbon
over silver river, hulk of an old bridge
showering sparks
for three years cutters disappeared it
piece by piece, bartender sez to twilit dome car
on The Canadian whatever is that
stolen land of sawmills
cutting, cutting, cutting trees
to shrink-wrapped two-by-fours
out of key with her time
wringing Kootenay from Camelot
she fished for obstinate rhymes
wander, Odyssea, outpost prisoner
train at Corrections Canada Mission
impossible message self-destruckle
chain-linked custodial living-unit
dream of Horseman lullabies,
dream of VIA cook poet Erín
frying eggs in galley car
then writing Furious
writing Pillage Laud
writing O Cidadán

Reviews

“Meredith Quartermain’s new collection of poems … puts colonization under the literary microscope. ”
~BC BookWorld

"This is a kind of anti-epic, challenging and provocative. "
~ Barbara Carey, Toronto Star

"Quartermain delights in wordplay, rhythm and rhyme, although she never holds any of these for long, making the poems musical and wild even as they refuse to stay still for too long. .. Despite her dark materials, Quartermain's poems gleam. ”
~ Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press

"While imagining a time before or without colonization, the collection also challenges colonizing literatures such as the Odyssey, along with various British and U. S. voices that make up the literary canon. "
~ CBC Books

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