MORSE, Garry Thomas

Author Tags: Fiction, First Nations, Poetry

Garry Thomas Morse's Discovery Passages (Talonbooks 2011) has been described as the first collection of poetry about the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) First Nations. Morse's book retraces Captain Vancouver's original sailing route in B.C. The poems contain tales of First Nations chiefs along with transformed passages from Whitman, Pound, Williams and Bowering--linking Kwakwaka'wakw traditions with contemporary poetry. Discovery Passages was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry and a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.

Morse is also author of other books of poetry such as Transversals for Orpheus (2006) and Streams (2007), and a collection of short stories entitled Death in Vancouver (Talonbooks, 2009).

In 2008, Morse received the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Artist and his manuscript Go Medieval was selected as a runner-up for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.
Grounded in the work of Ezra Pound, Jack Spicer, Rainer Maria Rilke and his Native oral traditions, his work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Canadian Literature, The Capilano Review, dANDelion, filling Station, memewar, The Vancouver Review and West Coast Line.

Garry Thomas Morse's stories in Death in Vancouver (Talon $19.95) reflect "a transnational, ahistoric cosmopolitanism" as he attempts to rediscover the "theatrical madness" of his mother's people (the Kwakwaka'wakw) who have become disconnected from the "dream-time" that existed in everyday lives.

Prairie Harbour (Talonbooks 2015) was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Poetry.

He works at Talonbooks in Vancouver.


Prairie Harbour (Talonbooks 2015) $18.95 978-0-88922-940-2
Rogue Cells / Carbon Harbour (Talonbooks 2013) $16.95 978-0-88922-776-7
Minor Episodes / Major Ruckus (Talonbooks, 2012)
Discovery Passages (Talonbooks, 2011) 978-0-88922-660-9 $16.95
After Jack (Talonbooks, 2010) 088922630X, $18.95
Death in Vancouver (Talon $19.95) 978-0-88922-607-4
Transversals for Orpheus (2006)

[BCBW 2016] "Poetry"

After Jack
Publishers promo

Jack Spicer, the barroom soothsayer of the “Berkeley Renaissance,” forged a new kind of poetry with Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser in the decade 1945–1955, grounded in their “queer genealogy” of Arthur Rimbaud, Federico García Lorca and other gay writers. Beginning his famous serial poem, After Lorca, in 1956, Spicer described it to Robin Blaser a year later:

“I enclose my eight latest ‘translations.’ Transformations might be a better word. Several are originals and most of the rest change the poem vitally. I can’t seem to make anybody understand this or what I’m doing. They look blank or ask what the Spanish is for a word that isn’t in the Spanish or praise (like Duncan did) an original poem as ­typically Lorca. What I am trying to do is establish a tradition. When I’m through … I’d like someone as good as I am to translate these translations into French (or Pushtu) adding more. Do you understand? No. Nobody does.”

Clearly, Spicer had not anticipated the birth of Garry Thomas Morse.

Not merely an homage to Jack Spicer, but also a tribute to his Orphic ­conception of the serial poem, After Jack is a palimpsestuous attempt to achieve the dark art of nekuia, to encourage the means of poetic transmission and to divine the polyphony of both Federico García Lorca and Jack Spicer as their voices interweave, transform and become inexorably ­entangled with a fresh and undeniably peculiar, disturbingly profane ­authorial voice.

Only via the enchanted act of re:writing can Billy the Kid make explicit the homosexual subtext of Gore Vidal’s 1955 TV play The Left-Handed Gun, or Walt Whitman turn into an apocalyptic figure, or the knights of the Round Table turn into the enlightened circle of the poet’s friends. But then, as Jack said, “We were never friends.”

Available in April 2010.