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Poetry General

Geographies of a Lover

by (author) Sarah de Leeuw

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2012
General, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2012
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Sarah de Leeuw's Geographies of a Lover is a sexually charged travelogue of love, lust, and loss.Drawing inspiration from such works as Pauline Réage's The Story of O and Marian Engel's Bear, de Leeuw's poetry uses the varied landscape of Canada--from the forests of North Vancouver through the Rocky Mountains, the prairies, and all the way to the Maritimes--to map the highs and lows of an explicit and raw sexual journey, from earliest infatuation to insatiable obsession and beyond.

About the author

Sarah de Leeuw holds a Ph.D. in historical-cultural geography and is currently an Associate Professor with the Northern Medical Program at UNBC, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, where she works in medical humanities and the determinants of marginalized peoples' health.

De Leeuw grew up on Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii (The Queen CharLotte Islands), the lived in Terrace, BC. She earned a BFA from the University of Victoria, after which she spent time teaching English in South Korea. She also worked as a tug boat driver, women's centre coordinator, logging camp cook, and a journalist and correspondent for Connections Magazine and CBC Radio's BC Almanac. She returned to Northern BC after spending four years in Ontario and another year in Arizona as a visiting Fulbright Scholar with the University of Arizona.

Her first book, Unmarked, was published in 2004. Her second, Geographies of a Lover, arrived in Spring 2012 and won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for the best book of poetry in British Columbia that year. For two consecutive years, Sarah de Leeuw was honoured in the Creative Nonfiction category of the CBC Literary Awards, winning first place for "Quick-quick. Slow. Slow." in 2010. In 2013, her essay "Soft Shoulder" earned a Western Magazine Gold Award.

She currently divides her time between Prince George and Kelowna, BC.

Sarah de Leeuw's profile page

Excerpt: Geographies of a Lover (by (author) Sarah de Leeuw)


Something terrible may one day happen to you.

A car accident in the countryside when you are collecting
two new kittens for your children. A random act of terrorism
in a café you nipped into while looking for a book of poetry
(perhaps even for me). A subway derailment as you travel to
work after making breakfast for your family. A heart attack
on a Tuesday morning. A drunk driver careening into a busy
sidewalk. A misstep on the stairs of your university's fire exit.
Or, much more likely, something small and without reason
or warning.

I would never know.

Our lines of communications would just end.

Maybe you finally had second thoughts, or feelings of guilt,
and lacked the courage to tell me.

Maybe the time finally came when you chose your family
over me.

It would be my burden to respect not hearing from you. Those
who love you like I do, your wife, your children, your in-laws
and family members, they would be the ones to plan details.
In the ways that loved ones do. With phone lists and contact
sheets and word of mouth.

I am a detail impossible to factor in.

Distance is what defines a lover.

I am far from waking up beside you day after day. I am separate
from leaking windows and weeds in the driveway. I am beyond
a kitchen sink with dishes calling.

I will never experience mourning you publicly.

I will never see how your youngest child brought you close to tears
by asking why red finger paint looks so much like the blood of
that woman you all saw in a faraway place last night on TV

53055'06.72"N 122043'39.25"W

this tender wound is my missing your body, standing on a lake
shore with the sun at my back, my shadow-outline fractured
into filaments and halo shards broken into summer fattened
fish i dissolve into thick overlapping scales, protective but
useless against a hurt that is nothing at all, the nothing of
emptiness gaping between rock edges torn apart from millennia
of seismic shuddering, of sky wedges visible between red cedar
roots upended and hurled into driftwood with tide stripped-back
bark, the nothing of the unlit moon when it rises far from full
and we simply trust that what is not visible exists, like you, not
here with your hips settling against my lower back you not here
with your thumb in my mouth you not here with your hand
resting between my upper thighs and you are not a river during
break-up full against banks straining through muscled ice blocks
nor are you the wrist-thick sturdy roots of water lilies wedged
firmly into muskeg bogs warm below the line of decomposition,
you are certainly not and this aches.

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