By Fred Wah
Introduction by Jeff Derksen
Fred Wah’s career has spanned six decades and a range of formal styles and preoccupations. Scree collects Wah’s concrete and sound poetry of the 1960s, his landscape-centric work of the 1970s, and his ethnicity-oriented poems of the 1980s. Fred was a founding member of the ... Read more
Fred Wah’s career has spanned six decades and a range of formal styles and preoccupations. Scree collects Wah’s concrete and sound poetry of the 1960s, his landscape-centric work of the 1970s, and his ethnicity-oriented poems of the 1980s. Fred was a founding member of the avant-garde TISH group, which helped turn Canadian poetry, in the West in particular, to a focus on language. He has said that his “writing has been sustained, primarily, by two interests: racial hybridity and the local. ”
Most of Wah’s early work is out of print. This collection allows readers to (re)discover this groundbreaking work. The volume contains:
Pictograms from the Interior of B. C. (1975)
Loki Is Buried at Smoky Creek (1980)
Owner’s Manual (1981)
Breathin’ My Name with a Sigh (1981)
Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail (1982)
Waiting for Saskatchewan (1985)
So Far (1991)
The collection has been organized according to a chronology of composition (rather than a chronology of original publication): this reveals new connections and thematic trajectories in the body of work as a whole, and makes the book an eminently “teachable” volume. The book includes full-colour facsimiles of two early books, Earth and Tree, reproduced to show the "hands-on" object-based aspect of chapbook publishing.
Fred Wah studied music and English literature at the University of British Columbia in the early 1960s, where he was one of the founding editors of the poetry newsletter TISH.
He has published books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. His book of prose poems, Waiting For Saskatchewan, received the Governor General’s Award in 1986, and So Far was awarded the Stephanson Award for Poetry in 1992. Diamond Grill, a biofiction about hybridity and growing up in a small-town Chinese Canadian cafe was published in 1996 and won the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction. Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity was awarded the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Writing on Canadian literature in 2000, and is a door won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2009.
Wah was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2012. He served as Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2013.
Jeff Derksen is a founding member of Vancouver’s writer-run centre, the Kootenay School of Writing, and has worked as an editor of Writing magazine. As an editor, Derksen also organized “Disgust and Overdetermination: a poetics issue,” for Open Letter and “Poetry and the Long Neoliberal Moment” for West Coast Line. His poetry and critical writing on art, urbanism, and text have been published in Europe and North America, including in the anthologies East of Main and Verse: Postmodern Poetry and Language Writing. His Down Time won the 1991 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and a selection from Dwell – “Host Nation, Host Society” – was nominated for inclusion in the anthology The Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative North American Poetry: 1993. Formerly a research fellow at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the City University of New York, Derksen currently teaches in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. He also collaborates on visual art and research projects (focusing on urban issues) with the research collective Urban Subjects.
“The book is gorgeous, … attempting to keep as close as possible the integrity of the original publications into a single volume. The resulting volume – shift of image, colour and font – is a breathtaking accomplishment that does far more than simply replicate a selection of thirty years of writing and publishing, but work[s] to present some sense of what those early publications might have felt like in their original forms …”
—rob mclennan’s blog
“Scree, a handsome and expansive collection containing almost thirty years of Wah’s poetry, is both an introduction to and overview of the writer’s powerful but understated literary oeuvre. … As his body of work expands over time, so does its breadth and insight, even as the author breaks, disrupts and refines poetic form. Like the mountain that is a recurring image throughout Wah’s work, the vistas of Scree are both subtle and breathtaking…”
"This is surely the best poetry book of the year! Such care and thoroughness have been taken here to let each important early publication keep its style and colour and format. This is a heavy book full of some of the lightest, halest experimental poetry in Canada. It is so important that this work is being done, both the writing and the editing. "
– Phil Hall, BookThug
"This is surely the best poetry book of the year! It is so important that this work is being done, both the writing and the editing. " – Phil Hall, BookThug