Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now gathers many of the poems from Daphne Marlatt’s 1972 Vancouver Poems, somewhat revised or in some cases substantially revised, and follows them with “Liquidities,” a series of recent poems about Vancouver’s incessant deconstruction and reconstruction, its quick transformations both on the ground and in urban imagining.
Vancouver Poems were a young woman’s take on a young, West Coast port city as it surfaced to her gaze in the late 1960s. In these “re-visions,” it remains verbal snapshots, running associations, sounding locales and their passers-through within a shifting context of remembered history, terrain, and sensory experience. Phrases break open in successive instants of perception, moving outward to observation and inward to linguistic play. Irony shifts tonal levels and traces the effects of imported colonial culture paving over local indigenous cultures.
“Liquidities” (from liquid assets, cash): the slower, more introspective rhythms of the city some forty years ago speed up in this new series as wordplay intensifies to verbal collision. Images traffic faster, with quicker jumps through milieu and temporal strata. Forest terrain transforms to high-rise architecture. On edge, littoral, surfacing through the litter it leaves, the city’s genius wavers in and out of focus through its tidal marks of corporate progress and enduring poverty.