Daphne Marlatt’s latest book of poems is a memory book—an album of love poems spanning twenty-five years, from her first writing of what was to become the opening section, “A Lost Book,” to later, most recent sequences.
These are love poems in the sense that in the meeting of our minds and bodies, we are actually tied to the earth, and how, with its turns and tremors, the world displays us, its lovers, dispassionately in all our tenuous and fleeting splendour: in the pull of desire, the ecstasy of union, the angst of loss and identity, the deterioration of recognition and affection.
A studied master of her craft, Marlatt weaves her motifs of departures and arrivals, the recurrence of wounds and loss, and the delight in what surrounds us and how we are drawn to reconnect with it time and again in an astonishing variety of notation, ranging from the prose poem to the spare image afloat on the glaring sea of the page.
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.