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Poetry Canadian

The Vestiges

by (author) Jeff Derksen

Initial publish date
Aug 2013
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2013
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Based on the experience of city life, The Vestiges moves across the uneven geography of the present, linking historical moments when quarters of cities were squatted, when social change boiled and the future was up for grabs. In the context of our precarious present, the poem “The Vestiges,” around which the book is built, “sets out to explore / what happens / to humans when they are reduced / to things by other humans.” In asking this question, “The Vestiges” is a long poem engaged with modernist poems that move from the particularities of everyday life to enduring and unanswered political and cultural questions. Covering a wide terrain of research, the other serial poems in the book mine various texts, from the Craigslist “auto parts” section to Jane Jacobs, from Marx to Marcuse, and from historical accounts of cities to contemporary real-estate promotions, in order to build up an eclectic atlas of this unstable moment. In terms of contemporary poetics, The Vestiges enters into dialogue with modernism, conceptual writing, and post-conceptual art.

About the author

Jeff Derksen
Jeff Derksen’s poetry and critical writing on art, urbanism and text have been published in Europe and North America. He collaborates on visual art and research projects (focusing on urban issues) with the research collective Urban Subjects. Derksen’s Down Time won the 1991 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award, at the BC Book Prizes.

Jeff Derksen's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Today the world exploded. Drones fell from the sky onto random targets, news stations went black, pepper spray burned our eyes. Who’s up for documenting the new rubble? For those of us hunkered down in the poetry corner of the universe, Jeff Derksen has been our man. He sits behind a common desk of particulars as an architect of data: distilling facts, designing hard poems that trace our desperate history of greed. These are The Vestiges and, indeed, ‘the idea of the north just shifted north.’”
– Robert Fitterman

“As all that is solid melts into liquidity, Jeff Derksen’s poetry provides footholds of humor, criticism, stealth analysis, and wild observation to address neoliberalism’s violent wake. With ‘expansive authority’ he reveals Marx as teacher, as worker, as conversationalist, and exposes what’s silhouetted in the glare of vagabond capitalism. The Vestiges is a beautiful, compelling, and even dangerous book.”
– Cindi Katz

“a masterful collection of long research poems, two of which have wildly incongruent commitments to having a knowable speaker … In the end, Derksen puts the reader in the vestiges of hope.”
Canadian Literature

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