This month our SpokenWeb minisode features Canadian poet Daphne Marlatt reading “Lagoon” from Vancouver Poems (1972), a deeply local collection that she had not yet published when this reading took place at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia) in Montreal. When listening to Marlatt reading “Lagoon,” we can hear the many futures of her listening, then and now.
Marlatt tells the audience that she will explain the local references as she goes along, starting with the first poem that refers to Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. What she could not have anticipated is that the poems would become pathways to revisit the city when republishing many of them years later in Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now (2013).
Listen to the full recording of Daphne Marlatt’s 1970 reading at SGWU here: https://montreal.spokenweb.ca/sgw-poetry-readings/daphne-marlatt-at-sgwu-1970/
Each month on alternate fortnights (that’s every second week following the monthly Spokenweb Podcast episode) – join Hannah McGregor, and minisode host and curator Katherine McLeod for SpokenWeb’s Audio of Month mini series.
An extension of Katherine’s audio-of-the-week series at spokenweb.ca, Katherine brings her favourite audio each month to The SpokenWeb Podcast – so if you love what you hear, make sure to head over to spokenweb.ca for more.
Producer: Katherine McLeod
Executive Producer: Stacey Copeland
Host: Hannah McGregor
[Piano Overlaid With Distorted Beat]
Welcome to our SpokenWeb minisodes. Each month on alternate fortnights—that’s every second week following the monthly SpokenWeb Podcast episode—join me, Hannah McGregor, and minisode host and curator Katherine McLeod for SpokenWeb’s Audio of the Month miniseries. We’ll share with you specially curated audio clips from deep in the SpokenWeb archives. This is an extension of Katherine’s Audio of the Week series at spokenweb.ca. Katherine brings her favourite audio each month to the SpokenWeb Podcast. So if you love what you hear, make sure to head over to spokenweb.ca for more. As the cherry blossoms fall in Vancouver and the snow melts away to spring flowers in Montreal, we’re reminded that spring is a time of renewal, to reflect on the past and celebrate new beginnings from coast to coast. While we find ourselves in uncertain times the season beckons us to collectively celebrate and regenerate in the then and now. No matter where you are listening from, take a deep breath of crisp, spring air and join Katherine in listening back with our ears towards the future. Here is Katherine McLeod with May’s SpokenWeb Audio of the Month: ‘mini’ stories about how literature sounds.
[Instrumental Overlapped With Feminine Vocals]
In this Audio of the Month, we’re going to be listening to the poem “Lagoon” by Daphne Marlatt. In 1970 in Montreal at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia), Daphne Marlatt read in the Sir George Williams Poetry Series. She began her reading with Vancouver Poems. These poems are from a deeply local collection that she had not yet published when this reading took place.
[Audio, Daphne Marlatt] I thought that what I’d do first is read to you from the Vancouver Poems.
Before reading the first poem, “Lagoon,” she tells her Montreal audience that she’ll explain the local references as she goes along, starting with the first poem that refers to Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
[Audio, Daphne Marlatt] I’ll just try and explain allusions as I go along for those people who have never been to Vancouver or know it because the poems tend to be pretty local as they were intended to be.
Marlatt could not have anticipated that those poems from Vancouver Poems published in 1972 would become pathways to revisit the city when republishing many of them, years later, in Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now published by Talon Books in 2013. Akin to Marlatt’s revisiting of place in the book Steveston, Liquidities _revisits and revises the city and the poetic voice. As Marlatt writes in her introduction to _Liquidities, “Vancouver Poems was a young woman’s take on a young city as it surfaced to her gaze.” By the way, she calls this introduction “Then and Now.” Marlatt’s return to the poems is not unlike the poet listening again to her own recorded voice. And that’s exactly what Marlatt did in November 2014 at Concordia when she read alongside and responded to her voice from that 1970 recording in the Sir George Williams Poetry Series. And again, five years later in September 2019 at UBC Okanagan, when Marlatt listened and responded to recordings of her voice and other voices in the Sir George Williams Poetry Series and in the UBC Okanagan-based SoundBox collection.
I met Marlatt here in Montreal when she read alongside that recording of her voice from 1970. She signed my copy of _Liquidities _with the words “Vancouver connection.” Now, by now, if you’ve been listening to these Audio of the Months, you may have figured out that I’m from Vancouver and that the Vancouver-Montreal connection is a meaningful one. I open this book now and read these poems of Vancouver here in Montreal. And I think of the then and the now and whether to hold them together in my reading and in my listening, or let them go, move, slip, liquid, changing, and to listen to the poems, listening to this change. With that, let’s listen to Marlatt reading “Lagoon” in 1970 here in Montreal, listening to her reading in a voice that she will later listen to in a reading, and listening to the many futures of her listening then and now.
[Audio, Daphne Marlatt reciting “Lagoon.” Some words are absent or different than the version in _Liquidities_] Lagoon, / down a cut on the city side, apartments / shacked uphill, through shadow and hulls and ribs we walk. / You’ve come home. On either side dark nets remember / how a wind fishing for that extent both left and right / ruffles your hair. Here. The city drinks what it collects. / Water or ducks, a nesting place. A neck of land. / Whose profile somehow looks more narrow in the street. / Our eyes reflect … kites, banners, a populous sky. / What you or others brought, come back to / Lie when we / outwalk our dragons, thus, their future tails: catch / fire. / You confirm that we sail to the east at nine, shore wise / having no place, antique, a houseboard. Wind ships our / ship, stands, having completed its turn to, gather to / the bridge… / Wait! I can’t get my hand out of green / pockets green, dissected, frogs. The edges of their / vision littoral. We skirt red. I’m half in, wanting to / pull up reeds to plant. / Your coin proves nothing, no / bottom, don’t. Go (in shoes sucked under). Water / scuttles old men on benches dangle under conifers. Listen: / their edges are always murmuring, Marshes, Your / forced march. / Could we afford your going? A salmon run? On the / corner there, half indecisive, tarnish of atrophied / fish in raffia swung: a house sign, a place to / enter. / Where I’d make tea, your lips on the future, / caught, so you could read me.
[Piano Overlaid With Distorted Beat]
Head to spokenweb.ca to find out more about where this recording is from. My name’s Katherine McLeod and tune in next month for another deep dive into the sounds of the SpokenWeb archives.