Quartermain, Meredith 1950-

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Quartermain, Meredith 1950-


Born October 1, 1950, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Gordon Elwood (a carpenter and graphic artist) and Ellen Willard (a high school teacher and dietician) Yearsley; married Peter Allan Quartermain (a professor and literary publisher), August 4, 1984. Education: University of British Columbia, B.A., 1976, M.A., 1978, LL.B., 1989.


Home—Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Slug Press, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, co-owner, 1977-97; Keefer Street Press, Vancouver, co-owner, 2002—; Nomados Literary Publishers, co-owner, 2002—. University of British Columbia, instructor, 1978-80, 1983-88; Capilano College, instructor, 1993-2000. Bob Leighton and Associates, business consultant, 1980-82; worked as a journalist, 1982-86; Swinton and Co., lawyer, 1990-93.


League of Canadian Poets, Writers' Union of Canada.


Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, British Columbia Book Awards, 2006, for Vancouver Walking.



Not for Ourselves Alone: 50 Years at York House School, 1932-1982 (history), York House School (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1983.

Terms of Sale, Meow (Buffalo, NY), 1996.

Abstract Relations, Keefer Street Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1998.

Gospel according to Bees, Keefer Street Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2000.

Inland Passage, Housepress (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2001.

Spatial Relations, Diaeresis (Boca Raton, FL), 2001. (With Robin Blaser) Wanders, Nomados Literary Publishers (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.

A Thousand Mornings (prose poetry), Nomados Literary Publishers (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.

The Eye-Shift of Surface, Greenboathouse (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2003.

Highway 99, Above/Ground (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

Vancouver Walking, NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 2005.

Contributor of poetry and reviews to periodicals, including Literary Review of Canada, CV2, Golden Handcuffs Review, Event, Matrix, Capilano Review, West Coast Line, Sulfur, Filling Station, Queen Street Quarterly, Prism International, Five Fingers Review, and Canadian Literature.


Meredith Quartermain told CA: "Motivation for writing: In high school I had to memorize Shelley's ‘Ode to the West Wind.’ It was around that time I began writing my own Shelley imitations. I wanted to put winds and lakes and rocks and trees into poems. Later, in my twenties, I came across Robert Creeley's For Love. Creeley's voice struck a chord in my own psyche that had to get out and be heard. I jotted things in notebooks but had no idea how to become a professional writer. When I was about thirty I tried to recount my family's journey across Canada from Ontario to the backcountry of British Columbia. I was haunted by the rugged mountain-and-lake landscape of the village we had moved to. Eventually it was poems about places that emerged—this time the place was the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, and the poems were about the city's skid road, buses jammed with shoppers, hookers near the sugar refinery, and rag-tag east-side houses. Later I moved to Strathcona, Vancouver's oldest neighborhood located near the docks, and my work became more deeply involved with the history and atmosphere of place, resulting in the publication of A Thousand Mornings. Vancouver Walking and Northwest Passage (in progress in 2006) continue that investigation of place.

"Influences on my work: Creeley's For Love was an early influence. My husband, Peter, a university professor, introduced me to writers such as Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser. Duncan's sense of rhythm is reflected in my Abstract Relations and Spatial Relations, and Blaser's compressed philosophical and imagistic poetics appear in many of my shorter poems. Gertrude Stein's investigations into language encouraged me to do my own experimenting and invention of forms. Canadian poets Daphne Marlatt and Fred Wah, both outstanding writers of place, have been significant influences, particularly Marlatt's Steveston and Ana Historic, which bring incidents of places together with history. Vancouver writer George Bowering also showed me how to incorporate history into place writing. And Ezra Pound's Cantos showed me new formal possibilities. For example, ‘Canto 33’ is a song literally made up of collaged fragments from historical research. Seeing this, I began doing similar things with research about Vancouver city. The result was Vancouver Walking.

"My writing process: Notebooks have been a crucial part of my writing process. I record a wide range of things in journals, including travel experiences, dreams, descriptions of places, anecdotes, and notes on books I'm reading. Some time later (as much as a year or two) I'll go back and look through these collections for poem material. The mixture of journal fragments often creates evocative collages. I also use collage on found materials. For instance, The Eye-Shift of Surface is created out of materials found in the dictionary under the letter ‘i’ and the word ‘eye.’ An unpublished project, ‘Matter,’ involved structuring a series of poems around the taxonomy of matter words found in a thesaurus and weaving into them material from Darwin's Origin of Species. Historical research into people and events associated with places is also important to my writing process.

"Life experience is the most important source of inspiration for subjects I've chosen. However, I'm also constantly stimulated by formal possibilities in the work of other writers, especially the really great works."



Who's Who in the Canadian League of Poets: Meredith Quartermain Home Page,http://www.poets/ca/linktext/whos.htm/ (December 28, 2006); http://www.poets.ca/linktext/direct/quartermain.htm (December 28, 2006).

Writers' Union of Canada: Meredith Quartermain Home Page,http://www.writersunion.ca/q/quartermain.htm (December 28, 2006).