Long-listed for the 2021 Raymond Souster Award!
Finalist for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Poetry at the 2021 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!
Meredith Quartermain's Lullabies in the Real World is a sequence of poems about a train journey from West Coast to East Coast that invokes a patchwork of regions, voices and histories. Her language zings with train rhythms as she unfolds a complex conversation with poets such as bpNichol and Robin Blaser.
This collection reflects and refracts Canada from diverse angles, and challenges colonizing literatures such as the Odyssey and various canonical British and US voices. As it moves from west to east, the book journeys back in time to interrogate historical events such as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the exclusion of Acadians. It ends by imagining a time before or outside colonization.
Rich, playful and confrontational, Lullabies in the Real World widens the poetic lens of poetry to investigate the place of a colonial nation in history, and the place of a poet vis-à-vis the voices of other poets.
About the author
Meredith Quartermain is a poet and novelist living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her first book of poetry, Vancouver Walking, won a BC Book Award for poetry; Recipes from The Red Planet was a finalist for a BC Book Award for fiction; and Nightmarker was a finalist for a Vancouver Book Award. A novel called Rupert's Land was released by NeWest Press in Fall 2013. She has since published a collection of stories entitled I, Bartleby, in 2015, and a novel, U Girl, in 2016. She is also cofounder of Nomados Literary Publishers, who have brought out more than 45 chapbooks of innovative Canadian and US writing since 2002. From 2014 to 2016, she was Poetry Mentor in the SFU Writer's Studio Program, and she has enjoyed leading workshops at the Kootenay School of Writing, The Toronto New School of Writing and Naropa University. In Spring 2020, her latest collection of poems, Lullabies in the Real World, will be released as a part of the Crow Said Poetry Series.
Excerpt: Lullabies in the Real World (by (author) Meredith Quartermain)
Unreal to real
to the back of
wrong from the start
unknow this depart
trainwave train shadow
shunt clunk shadeland shadfly shamble-shanks
rubbishy gulch-track gleam to river sidle
warehouse after depot after shed after chute
after silo after crane after . . .
I, shade in this
train tag. SKLMSH!
I, grain hopper lumber rack
KAROOOM!!! Gotcha Poet
point in a grid, bit in a byte
boo in a boonie.
Buy low. Sky blue. Who's it? Not you
lift the latch crosspatch
of Prufrock's Xanadu
Wheel your red barrow
in Blake's cathedral
bpNichol St. Rains St. Ruggles.
Rockabye, lost tonight
clackity skulls rattle our masks
when the train hops.
Praise for Lullabies in the Real World:
"Meredith Quartermain's new collection of poems ... puts colonization under the literary microscope."
"While imagining a time before or without colonization, the collection also challenges colonizing literatures such as the Odyssey, along with various British and U.S. voices that make up the literary canon."
~ CBC Books
"Quartermain delights in wordplay, rhythm and rhyme, although she never holds any of these for long, making the poems musical and wild even as they refuse to stay still for too long... Despite her dark materials, Quartermain's poems gleam."
~ Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press"This is a kind of anti-epic, challenging and provocative."
~ Barbara Carey, Toronto Star
"Playful and serious, waving to bpNichol, Robin Blaser, and Homer, Meredith Quartermain questions and elicits the classic cross-Canada poetic journey. Her cut-ups and substantiations, echoes and plot decoys, rhythmic clickings, bilanguaged mashups and toponomastic calibrations bring us a joyous un-epic, full of Learning Coordinators, museums, watercourses, city streets, and the inside/outside of identity and weather, historical and new."
~ Erín Moure, award-winning author of The Elements
"Meredith Quartermain torques the fabric of language to move us across the Canadian landscape between train tracks, tanneries, and graffiti tags with the rhythm of a dancing ear and a flaneuse's critical eye. These are poems made of breath, rifts, and music, at once impressionistic and precise. They unsettle history and make us party."
~ Shazia Hafiz Ramji, author of Port of Being
"Ride the Quartermain line. Steam across Canada on the milkiest of runs with this guide, alert always to the particular ecological, historical, and literary strata of places. With language as its engine, Lullabies goes irrepressibly off the rails at every turn, and in those detours shows us where we live."
~ Susan Holbrook, author of Throaty Wipes
"In Lullabies in the Real World, Meredith Quartermain takes us 'backwards,' by train, along the literal tracks laid down by the colonial enterprise that made Canada. Her poems shush and clunk to us as we move across over-storied territories, not to lull us to sleep but to wake us out of false knowing. Her sound-songs challenge our attachment to colonial place names and histories, spinning new yarns of possibility to unknow, unremember and unharm. Quartermain's earnest unmappings help us imagine a futurity 'before sixty-second minutes,' in fuller harmony with the lands' long histories."
~ Sonnet L'Abbé, author of Sonnet's Shakespeare