These poems were written in the political and emotional wake of the “Missing Women” of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Although women had been going missing from the neighbourhood since the late 1970s, police efforts were not coordinated into a full-scale investigation until the issue was given widespread public visibility by Lori Culbert, Lindsay Kines and Kim Bolan’s 2001 “Missing Women” series in the Vancouver Sun. This media coverage, combined with the efforts of activists in political and cultural sectors, finally resulted in increased official investigative efforts, which have so far led to the arrest of Robert Pickton, on whose property the remains of twenty-seven of the sixty-eight listed women were found. In December 2007, Pickton was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder in what had become one the highest-profile criminal cases to take place in B.C.’s history; yet this is not the focus of this book.
As the title suggests, the concern of this project is an investigation of the troubled relationship between this specific marginalized neighbourhood, its “invisible” populations both past and present, and the wealthy, healthy city that surrounds it. These poems interrogate the comfortable distance from which the public consumes the sensationalist news story by turning their focus toward the normative audience, the equally invisible public. In the speaker’s examination of this subject, assumptions and delineations of community, identity and ultimately citizenship are called into question. Projects such as Lincoln Clarkes’ controversial Heroines photographic series and subsequent book (Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2002), news stories and even the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games circulate intertextually in this manuscript, while Pickton’s trial is intentionally absent.
Irritated by complacency, troubled by determinate narrative and the relationship between struggle and the artistic representation of struggle, Murakami is a poet bewildered by her city’s indifference to the neglect of its inhabitants.
About the author
Sachiko Murakami’s first poetry collection, The Invisibility Exhibit, was a finalist for the Governer General’s Award for Poetry and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. She has been a literary worker for various publishers, magazines and organizations, and is a past member of Vancouver’s Kootenay School of Writing collective. She lives in Toronto where she co-hosts the Pivot Reading Series.
- Short-listed, Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
- Short-listed, Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry
“The final poem of the collection insists ‘What gentleness we must muster now, to lift DNA // from a microscopic edge, to protect / the whole of the woman contained there.’ Murakami’s collection succeeds in embodying this gentleness, along with a startling poetic sensitivity and strength.”
“Sachiko Murakami’s poems transcend the topical to achieve a startling and personal emotional resonance. Reading them, we become at once wiser and more questioning, sadder and more hopeful. A risky, and deeply rewarding, first collection.”
— Stephanie Bolster
“Murakami is a tightly wound spring finally sprung, releasing ohms of energy and lighting the world of Canadian poetry with a new ampere. She has vaulted into prominence with this her first book.”
— Prairie Fire
“Here is one woman’s fiercely intelligent response to one of society’s most tragic and pressing dilemmas. Murakami reveals and dismantles the rhetoric of the all-too-familiar missing woman narrative. The Invisibility Exhibit is an articulate and expertly rendered protest against the violence of erasure.”
— Jon Paul Fiorentino