LITERARY LOCATION: Burrard Bridge, Vancouver

Daphne Marlatt was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2006 and became the 19th recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Born in Australia, she immigrated to Vancouver in 1951. Following her partnership with multi-media artist Roy Kiyooka, her associations with the lesbian and feminist writing communities increasingly shaped her writing. Her Burrard Bridge poem "after noon's" ends with a quote from the 2011 Digital Natives electronic exhibit on the billboard at the Kitsilano end of the bridge: If you lived under this bridge you'd be home by now.

hope it's high enough for tugs at
flood tide Taylor's coach-lamp pillars raised a glow above that
human flood some 4,111 in from RR yards the wangies stickers
pokey stiffs with canned heat crack now flaring up through vein
flambeaux or stained our mirror glass is electronic tweets ten
secs at most gone digital native If you lived under this bridge
you'd be home by now


Daphne Marlatt is the 19th recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia. [See Acceptance Speech below]

She previously won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2009 for The Given (M&S 2008), a poetic narrative about Vancouver that she originally submitted as a novel. In her acceptance speech she said, "A good book never comes out of the blue. It is a creation of all the voices, written or spoken, that its author has heard and internalized. The Given is full of such voices, including some of my favourite Modernist women writers like Ethel Wilson, Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, and Marguerite Duras. In a sense, singling out one book as the most deserving of honour is a fiction. Each book is part of an extensive conversation through time with other writers' books."

In early 2006, Daphne Marlatt was appointed to the Order of Canada.

Born as Daphne Buckle to parents who left Pulau Pinang, Malaysia, prior to the Japanese occupation, Daphne Marlatt spent six years in Malaysia after World War II before she immigrated to Vancouver in 1951. Her family came to live in North Vancouver. Much of her postmodernist writing would be attuned to the adjustments, struggles and accomplishments of immigrants. Marlatt first attended UBC (1960-1964) and completed her Masters in comparative literature at the University of Indiana (1968). Her literary associations with the loosely-named TISH group encouraged her non-conformist approach to language and etymological explorations. She was the founding editor of two literary magazines: periodics, with Paul DeBarros (1977-81) and Tessera, with Gail Scott, Barbara Godard, and Kathy Mezei, later Susan Knutson and Louise Cotnoir (1983-91). She has also co-edited West Coast Review (1988-89), Island (1981-84), The Capilano Review (1973-76) and TISH, the 2nd series (1963-65).

Following her marriage to Alan Marlatt and her partnership with multi-media artist Roy Kiyooka, she experimented with fiction. Her short novel Zocalo (Coach House, 1977) is derived from a trip to Mexico with Kiyooka (b. 1926-d. 1994). As her associations within the lesbian and feminist writing communities increasingly shaped her writing, she collaborated with her partner, poet Betsy Warland, with whom she moved to Salt Spring Island. Their collaborative poetry and theory was collected in Two Women in A Birth (Guernica, 1994). Her novel, Taken (Anansi, 1996), set against the twin backdrops of the Gulf War and World War II, details the estrangement of a lesbian couple. While one partner visits her mother in the American midwest, the narrator pieces together her parents' and grandparents' histories in colonial Malaya and WW II Australia.

Her earlier and better known Ana Historic (Coach House, 1988) uncovers three female lives in British Columbia, from the 19th century to the late 20th century. A contemporary woman, Annie, becomes fascinated by imagining the story of a Mrs. Richards whose name appears in the 1873 archives of Vancouver.

Marlatt has received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Western Ontario in 1996 and from Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia in 2004. In September of 2004 she was appointed as the first writer-in-residence at Simon Fraser University in three decades. The program was revived by the SFU English Department and professor Roy Miki with funding from the university and Canada Council. Marlatt was previously writer-in-residence at the University of Windsor (2001-2), University of Western Ontario (fall, 1993), University of Alberta (1985-6) and University of Manitoba (fall, 1982). She was on the faculty for Writing Studios at the Banff Centre for the Arts (spring 2001, fall-spring 2000-01, fall 1999; and on the faculty for Sage Hill Fall Poetry Colloquium (1998). She currently co-directs the annual Banff Writing Studio. Having lived for a time on Salt Spring Island, she now lives with her partner, Bridget MacKenzie, in Vancouver.

At the River's Mouth: Writing Migrations by Daphne Marlatt, a book designed by Robert Bringhurst and published by the Institute for Coastal Research (ICR) at Vancouver Island University (VIU), won second prize in the prose non-fiction category of the Alcuin Society's 28th Annual Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada.

Collaboration has been a significant element of her career, beginning with her 1970s oral history research in the Japanese-Canadian community of Steveston and then in the multi-ethnic neighbourhood of Strathcona. Opening Doors in Vancouver's East End: Strathcona (Harbour Publishing 2011), edited by Marlatt and Carole Itter, was the first book to be republished under Vancouver's 125 Legacy Books Collection program.

Her recent ventures into theatre have extended this element. In 2008 Pangaea Arts' 2005 bilingual and bicultural production of The Gull, her contemporary Canadian Noh play, was awarded the international Uchimura Naoya Prize. In 2011, Marlatt completed the libretto for a new chamber opera, Shadow Catch, performed at the Firehall Centre for the Arts on Cordova Street in December of that year. The work is a collaboration with four Vancouver composers (Dorothy Chang, Benton Roark, Jennifer Butler and Farshid Samandari) who requested a Noh-based libretto for which they could write New Music scores.

Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now (Talonbooks 2013) gathers many of the poems from Marlatt's 1972 collection Vancouver Poems, 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.

In Reading Sveva (Talonbooks 2016), Daphne Marlatt responds to the life and paintings of Sveva Caetani, born in Rome in 1917, who came to Canada as an Italian émigré and grew up in Vernon. When Fascism was on its rise in 1921, Sveva and her parents came to the Okanagan where she was raised as multilingual, with deeply indentured European traditions. When Sveva's father died in 1939, she and her mother entered a 25-year home-seclusion out of grief. It wasn't until her mother died that Sveva re-entered the community of Vernon where she flourished with her artistic skill as a painter and a high school teacher. Marlatt illuminates the life of a female artist and her search for belonging. Caetani's life and art previously inspired a coffee table book, Recapitulaton: A Journey, in 1995, made possible by editor Heidi Thompson, followed by a book/exhibit edited by Catherine Harding for the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, Caetani di Sermoneta: An Italian family in Vernon, 1921-1994, in 2003.

[Photo by Robert Minden, circa 1976]

CITY/TOWN: Vancouver

DATE OF BIRTH: July 11, 1942

PLACE OF BIRTH: Melbourne, Australia



ANCESTRAL BACKGROUND: "British, sort of"

EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Teaching at university level and teaching writing workshops


George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award 2012

The Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize 2009 for The Given

The International Uchimura Naoya Prize 2008 for Pangaea Art's 2006 production of The Gull

Mayor's Arts Award for Literary Arts, 2008

Biography: 2008 Distinguished Poet in the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Chair at Vancouver Island University

2008-10 leading the Poetry Colloquium at Sage Hill Writing Experience, Saskatchewan

Fall 2007 was writer-in-residence in the Dept. of English & Cultural Studies, McMaster University

2007 Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Calgary

2006 Order of Canada

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Opening Doors in Vancouver's East End: Strathcona


(poetry, unless noted otherwise)

Intertidal: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1968 - 2008 (Talonbooks 2017) $49.95 978-1-77201-178-4

Reading Sveva (Talonbooks 2016) $17.95, ISBN 978-1-77201-016-9

Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now (Talonbooks 2013) $16.95 978-0-88922-761-3

The Gull (Talonbooks, 2009) contemporary Canadian Noh play, with Japanese translation by Toyoshi Yoshihara

At the River's Mouth: Writing Migrations (Institute for Coastal Research 2009)

Between Brush Strokes (JackPine Press, 2008) chapbook with drawings & design by Frances Hunter

The Given (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2008) a long poem

Seven Glass Bowls (Nomados, 2003)

This Tremor Love Is (Talonbooks, 2001)

Winter/Rice/Tea Strain ( (M)Other Tongue Press, 2001)

Readings from the Labyrinth, essays (NeWest Press, 1998)

Taken, a novel (House of Anansi, 1996)

Two Women in a Birth, with Betsy Warland (Guernica 1994)

Ghost Works (NeWest Press, 1993)

Salvage (Red Deer Press, 1991)

Double Negative, with Betsy Warland (Gynergy Books, 1988)

Ana Historic, a novel (3rd ed. House of Anansi, 1997; 2nd ed. U.K. Women's Press 1990; 1st ed. Coach House, 1988); translation: Ana historique (Les editions du remue-menage, 1992) by Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagne

character/jeu de lettres, with Nicole Brossard (Nouvelle barre du jour/Writing, 1986)

MAUVE, with Nicole Brossard (Nouvelle barre du jour/Writing, 1985)

Touch to my Tongue, with photographs by Cheryl Sourkes (Longspoon, 1984)

How Hug a Stone (Turnstone, 1983)

here & there (Island Press, 1981)

Net Work: Selected Writing, ed. by Fred Wah (Talonbooks, 1980)

What Matters: Writing 1968-70 (Coach House, 1980)

Opening Doors (Sound Heritage, Volume VIII, Numbers 1 and 2, Aural History Program, Provincial Archives, 1979; republished Harbour Publishing, 2001). With Carole Itter.

The Story, She said (B.C. Monthly Press, 1977)

Zocalo, a novel (Coach House, 1977). Collected in Ghost Works (NeWest, 1993)
Our Lives (2nd ed. Oolichan, 1980; 1st ed. U.S. Truck Press, 1975)

Steveston with photographs by Robert Minden (3rd ed. Ronsdale Press, 2001; 2nd ed. Longspoon, 1984; 1st ed. Talonbooks, 1974)

Vancouver Poems (Coach House, 1972)

Rings (Vancouver Community Press, 1971)

leaf leaf/s (Black Sparrow Press in U.S., 1969)

Frames of a Story (Ryerson Press, 1968)


Oral history Opening Doors: Vancouver's East End (Sound Heritage VIII, 1/2, from the Provincial Archives), ed. with Carole Itter, photos by Todd Greenaway

Oral history Steveston Recollected: A Japanese-Canadian History (Provincial Archives, 1975) ed. with Maya Koizumi, trans., photos by Robert Minden and Rex Weyler.

Lost Language: Selected Poems of Maxine Gadd (edited with Ingrid Klassen) (Coach House Press, 1982).

Feminist literature In the Feminine: Proceedings of the Women and Words/Les femmes et les mots Conference 1983, ed. with Ann Dybikowski, Victoria Freeman, Barbara Pulling and Betsy Warland (Longspoon Press, 1985).

Feminist literature Telling It: Women and Language Across Cultures, ed. with Lee Maracle, Sky Lee and Betsy Warland (Press Gang, 1990)

Mothertalk: the Life-Stories of Mary Kiyoshi Kiyooka by Roy Kiyooka (posthumously edited) (NeWest Press, 1997).

"Like Light Off Water" (Vancouver: Otter Bay Productions, 2008) a CD, a selection of Steveston poems with the original music of Robert Minden & Carla Hallett


Rivering: The Poetry of Daphne Marlatt, edited and introduced by Susa Knutson (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2014)

Photo by Jocelyn Mandryk.

[BCBW 2016] "Women" "Poetry" "Fiction" "Mexico"