Lullabies in the Real World
By Meredith Quartermain
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
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 was born in Toronto but grew up in rural British Columbia, on the north end of Kootenay Lake. Botany, Latin, Math, Philosophy and Ecology intrigued her at UBC. She is the author of Terms of Sale (1996), Wanders [with Robin Blaser] (2002), A Thousand Mornings (2002), The Eye-Shift of Surface (2003), and Vancouver Walking (2005), winner of the BC Book Awards Poetry Prize. She lives in Vancouver where she runs Nomados Literary Publishers with husband Peter Quartermain.
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
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
“Meredith Quartermain’s new collection of poems … puts colonization under the literary microscope. ”
"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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