(For SFU IAT 344 Course, Fall Term)
Synopsis: The first three stanzas of this poem take the reader to the current site of Sen̓ákw also known as Vanier Park where there is a shifting scene of stunt kites, bicycles, joggers, music, picnickers and Bard on the Beach tents in which the play Lysistrata is being performed. The last three stanzas awaken the settler speaker of the poem, and the reader, to the dark colonial history of Sen̓ákw.
Synopsis: Giant fir trees have lived in Stanley Park for centuries; they are the mother trees sheltering animals, birds, insects, and plants, and observing rootless humans from above.
Synopsis: When you walk along the Stanley Park seawall, so full of its own history, you will come upon cairns sculptured only with stones precariously balanced, yet they often manage to remain for several days, resembling flocks of birds. Only once have I seen an actual artist at work — often is seems it is done in quiet hours while others are not around.
Synopsis: This poem captures layered moments of a singular winter day where a striking piece of public art opens the narrator to the voices of her neighbourhood’s deep history.
Synopsis: This poem is about the poet’s memories of growing up near Commercial drive in the 1990s. It shows certain places and the poet’s memories about them.
Vancouver West Side
Synopsis: Vancouverites, known to demonstrate publicly for various causes, reach out to Ukrainians fighting for their homeland and culture. Alma Street here and the Alma River in Crimea are placenames we share, signifying our common bonds and shared hopes for peace and justice.
Leslie Timmins, “The Modest Contribution of Babies to the Protest at the Member of Parliament’s Office”
Location: Khatsahlano Beach (known as Kitsilano Beach) and a protest by 350.org at Broadway and Arbutus Read the Poem | Recorded Reading
Synopsis: On a scorching summer day, a crowd of people gather on a street corner in Vancouver, some tenderly carrying babies on their chests or backs, others cheerfully waving signs at drivers passing by, all demonstrating against government support for the fossil fuel industry. Just a few blocks away—evidence of a catastrophic climate event: a thousand blue mussel shells lying open on an offshore reef, still cradled against other, but unable to survive record-breaking heat in an ocean the temperature of bathwater.
Synopsis: This is a poem of Remembrance about the personification of place as Witness. An homage to the rondeau form of John McCrae’s venerated poem, “In Flanders Fields,” this five-part work encompasses the story of the Square via key historical events since its dedication in 1924. Through the poem we recall not only the veterans of military conflicts but also those of the Depression riots of 1935 and of homelessness and substance abuse, each a vivid entity in the social geography of the square’s environs whose ‘presence through absence’ is embodied in the cenotaph as an equivocal symbol of our perennial will to remember.
Synopsis: This poem is about the gentrification and power imbalances that come about in trying to erase history, and our duty to make sure it’s remembered.(First Nations villages as well as Chinese, Portuguese, Hawaiian and mixed-race communities were forcibly displaced by authorities to make way for what we now know as Stanley Park. (Please read the footnotes to the poem for the history.))
Chinatown & Downtown Eastside
Kelsey Andrews, “To the Otter Who Snuck into the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden and Ate the Koi”
Location: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden | Read the Poem | Recorded Reading
Synopsis: The poem is about the otter who came to the Garden, from the point of view of a formerly homeless person who is now living in an SRO, thinking about the similarities and differences between him and the otter.
Synopsis: The poem in its barest is about the historical presence of The Marco Polo (former famous nightclub in Chinatown), and its importance as a space-of-relation between communities, namely communities of colour.
Angela May, single mother on hastings
Location: 324 Powell Street (The Lion Hotel), East Hastings, and the wider Downtown Eastside, especially via personal and familial memory | Read the Poem | Recorded Reading
Synopsis: This poem is about a Japanese-Canadian single mother who makes home in the Downtown Eastside, and how the power of her home-making transcends time, touching down in the lives of her children, and further generations (including the poet).
Synopsis: A 100 year-old Chinese elder witnesses the changes and gentrification of Chinatown.