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A Vancouver of a Certain Age

By 49thShelf
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A recommended reading list from Diane Tucker, whose new release is NOSTALGIA FOR MOVING PARTS: My generation of poets in the fair city of my birth have spent decades now chronicling lives in this scrappy little port town that, in the 1980’s, suddenly decided it needed to appear “world class” for some reason. Go figure. But the poets who have lived and written here for decades know there’s infinitely more to Vancouver, thank goodness, than microbreweries and Lululemon. I begin the list with two excellent books that would provide a perfect context in which to read the poetry collections that follow.
Vancouver in the Seventies

Vancouver in the Seventies

Photos from a Decade that Changed the City
by Kate Bird
introduction by Shelley Fralic
foreword by Douglas Coupland
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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Why it's on the list ...
Talk about nostalgia! I grabbed this photographic record of a decade right away when it was released by Greystone Books in 2016. It immediately paid off in a couple of happy hours spent immersed in the Vancouver of my childhood. I learned more about some of the social and cultural moments that were making Vancouver what it is today (while I was busy watching the Irish Rovers, playing with Lawn Darts, and running through the sprinkler).
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Verse Map of Vancouver, A

Verse Map of Vancouver, A

Photographs by Derek Von Essen
edited by George McWhirter
photographs by Derek von Essen
edition:Hardcover
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Why it's on the list ...
Edited by Vancouver’s first Poet Laureate and filled with Derek von Essen’s beautiful photographs, This anthology is a unique gem from the city’s Anvil Press. The poems explore specific locations from UBC east to suburb Burnaby, written by likely the largest single gathering of the city’s poets ever between two covers. Though in a luxe coffee-table book, this collection eschews tourist paeans for unflinching poetic gazes at Vancouver’s natural beauty, architectural glory, and gritty, disturbing history. This out-of-print book is now a coveted collectible. If you can get yourself a copy, hang on to it!
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Lost Lagoon / Lost in Thought

Lost Lagoon / Lost in Thought

edition:Paperback
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Why it's on the list ...
A fascinating meditation on a Vancouver location that has meant so many things, good and bad, to so many people. The book offers not only an intimate look at one resident’s long and tender relationship with the lagoon and the creatures who call it home, but also at its ambivalent history as both beloved city gathering place and product of colonial appropriation.
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Next Door to the Butcher Shop

Next Door to the Butcher Shop

edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian
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Why it's on the list ...
This visceral collection of poems from writer, actor, and musician DeCroo paints vivid pictures of both his history in Pittsburgh and Montreal, and also of his current home in the fascinating streets of East Van. No matter where we come from, we all bring our pasts with us. Vancouver should be grateful that the gifted DeCroo has chosen to put down roots here.
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Pineapple Express
Why it's on the list ...
In this collection Lau maps the intimate topography of depression while the poet lives and walks through the city streets. Vancouver’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2014, Lau is one of her generation’s, and her city’s, most established writers. From her seminal memoir Runaway through her many excellent poetry books right to Pineapple Express’s meditations on Vancouver’s daunting real estate prospects, Lau is a writer to read to see how Vancouver threads its way inextricably through a life.
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The Dirty Knees of Prayer

The Dirty Knees of Prayer

edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian
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Why it's on the list ...
This longtime resident of Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood reflects eloquently in this book on his upbringing, his family, his home, and what brought him to his here and now in one of Vancouver’s most vibrant and colourful neighbourhoods. The book brings with it, for me, many memories of Timothy at readings and book launches (may they begin again soon!), reading his unique and piercing work.
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Practical Anxiety
Why it's on the list ...
Heidi was one of the first local poets I met in the mid 1990s when I stepped gingerly into the local literary scene, and ever since she’s been a compelling, thoughtful presence in our midst. Her latest book of poems walks deftly the road we’re all walking now: reflecting on our younger years in the context of now, days spent in the rainforest with crows and cedars and the ever-present sea.
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the bridge from day to night

the bridge from day to night

edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian, family, death
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Why it's on the list ...
GG award-winning poet Zieroth has contributed hugely to the area’s literary community. Beyond his career of college teaching and his many beautiful books of poems and prose, Zieroth founded the city’s long-running Dead Poets Reading Series and produces his handmade chapbook series, the Alfred Gustav Press. His most recent book spans the years from prairie to coast, representing so many Vancouverites who grew up there and found themselves here.
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