Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Nada Gordon's Intro to Meredith Quartermain

Meredith Quartermain has published and read her work in Canada, the U.S. and Britain. Her most recent book is Vancouver Walking (NeWest 2005). Chapbooks include Terms of Sale (Meow 1996), Abstract Relations (Keefer Street 1998), Veers (Backwoods Broadsides 1998), Spatial Relations (Diaeresis 2001), Inland Passage (housepress 2001), The Eye-Shift of Surface (Greenboathouse 2003), and [with Robin Blaser] Wanders (Nomados 2002). Her book of prose poems, A Thousand Mornings (Nomados 2002), is about Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood, the dockside area of Strathcona.

Metaphors that posit the poem as terrain, map, space, or landscape and the writer or reader as traveler, flaneur, surveyor, or adventurer abound. And in Canada, which is all about sheer land, more than one writer has literalized the metaphor by writing works that trace and traverse terrain in verse: I think here of Lisa Robertson’s Soft Architecture: A Manifesto and Gail Scott’s Paris.

I also think of Bruce Chatwin’s book, The Songlines, in which he explores the Australian aboriginal custom of singing the world out of dreamtime. He recounts the aboriginal creation myth thusly:

The Ancients sang their way all over the world. They sang the rivers and ranges, salt-pans and sand dunes. They hunted, ate, made love, danced, killed; wherever their tracks led they left a trail of music.

Meredith writes: Geography means writing the earth, or you might say writing the world. It 
seems to me that the act of writing the world is the act of creating it. As such I 
would hope that this writing keeps rewriting itself, or that writers, as geographers 
keep rewriting the world-space, and keep approaching it as an act which must 
unfold in the presence of a plurality of such actors (geographers), so that there is 
no definitive world or definitive geography, but rather an ongoing discussion or 
network of stories.

Today, we are fortunate to join Meredith on her peregrinations. Please welcome…

Gary's intro to Peter Quartermain

Peter Quartermain has authored and edited many scholarly books, essays, and books of poetry over the years, including, Getting Here; Basil Bunting: Poet of the North; Disjunctive Poetics; The Objectivist Nexus (edited with Rachel Blau DuPlessis); and, with Richard Cadell, the groundbreaking anthology Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970, which miraculously collects together the likes of Maggie O’Sullivan and the late Bob Cobbing, and yet was not photocopied and hand-stapled, but somehow published by Wesleyan University Press.

The male half of the Quartermain powerhouse has written essays on many of your favorite poets, including Lorine Niedecker, Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser, Lyn Hejinian, Bruce Andrews, Mina Loy, and Louis Zukofsky (if you haven’t yet, check out his completely engaged and engaging “Thinking with the Poem” in Jacket magazine’s recent feature on Zukofsky).

Like Zukofsky, Quartermain brings an open ear to bear on what he sees and seizes, with an eye towards what he hears or feels he hears in here [points to head] as well as out there:

Sun blurs my lash catches
cold fire the heat of my hand
like love goes through the plashy fen
vole's questing feathered feet
to type what right
here I can never see
but feel

Please help me welcome Peter Quartermain to the stage.


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