Zane Koss deposited Coastal Flows: Situating Vancouver Poetry in the Americas in the group LLC Canadian on MLA Commons 1 year, 9 months ago
In a 1972 poem about Vancouver Island, Mexican writer José Emilio Pacheco wonders, “Acaso fue el Aztlán de las mexicas / De allí partieron siete tribus.” Though Pacheco spent several years living in Vancouver during the late 1960s and early 1970s—and was published in a 1971 anthology of poetry “From Canada’s Unofficial Languages”—his place in Canadian poetics is non-existent. At the same time, a group of young Vancouver-based poets associated with the poetry newsletter TISH formed a bond with the bilingual Mexico City journal El corno emplumado. In Steveston (1974), Daphne Marlatt—one of the members of the TISH group—traces histories of migration and settlement on the Pacific Coast that mirror Pacheco’s interests and likewise demand an interrogation in a broader hemispheric context. I use this hemispheric re-contextualization to consider the ways in which the consolidation of the TISH poets as the key figures of the Vancouver poetry scene in the 1960s and 70s has limited critics’ ability to read writers like Pacheco into Canadian poetry and—conversely—to read figures like Marlatt outside of Canadian literary history. I argue that the critical durability of a coherent TISH cohort helps to build—insofar as TISH poets found allies in El corno emplumado—and to resist the cultivation of a poetics of the Americas. Using the work of Pacheco and Marlatt, such a poetics will be concerned with flows of people and the environment situated deep history across the Americas.