Tag Archives: ECW Press

Poetry Picks of 2011: Jacqueline Turner

One of the standout poetry projects for me this year (beside the BookThug sweep of the Canadian Governor General’s award for poetry shortlist and ultimately the winner of said prize) is Sachiko Murakami’s Project Rebuild  (Read about the project here) which is an experiment in radical collaboration. The project is created out of the compelling question: “Can you inhabit a poem?” You can go and “renovate” poems on this site and I invite you, specifically, to renovate mine. The multiple iterations of the poems show how language can move from one idea to another, while still maintaining a trace of the original, almost like an elaborate game of telephone.

The project is connected to her second book of poetry, Rebuild which I reviewed here. Her book asks us to look at the ridiculousness of the structures we inhabit and the identities we attempt to derive from them. She looks closely at the city of Vancouver (where I live – think Sydney) where the architectural splendour signifies “Enough failed attempts at beauty” to “Let the home stand for us,” even though “There’s nowhere to hang a metaphor.” The repetition of the structure indicates a civic reliance on sameness built into the visible history of the city. She uses a housing type called the “Vancouver Special” to show how this “sameness” comes to represent the identity of this Canadian city while at the same time showing that change isn’t just always possible, change is the thing itself. In the end she asks, “What is poetry but a rental unit of language?”


Jacqueline Turner has published three books with ECW Press: Seven into Even (2006), Careful (2003), and Into the Fold (2000). She writes poetry reviews for The Georgia Straight, and is on the board of Artspeak. She teaches creative and critical writing at Simon Fraser University and Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She was Queensland’s inaugural poet-in-residence at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Australia in 2005, a poet-in-residence in Tasmania in 2006, and a guest writer at the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2007 and the Tasmanian Poetry Festitval in 2010. Last year she read at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York. Her most recent publication was from Nomados, called The Ends of the Earth. Her work has appeared in anthologies —How the Light Gets In (2009), Companions and Horizons, (2005), and The Small Cities Anthology (2005).


Follow Jacqueline on Twitter
Audio from Seven into Even
See list of all her books
Archive of her poetry reviews for The Georgia Straight


Filed under discussions, poetry & publishing

Poet’s Breakfast #2 – Jacqueline Turner

This time we head overseas to Vancouver and enter the dreamy morning world of Jacqueline Turner.


Waking with the Dictionary – One Poet’s Morning

I should start with a disclaimer to say that I do not have a consistent morning ritual. I am not one of those people who gets up at 5 a.m. and writes for a couple of hours before work, like my poet friend Shane Rhodes. In fact, as soon as I develop some kind of pattern, my contrary nature suggests breaking it. Still, I think it’s interesting to contemplate how we start our days immersing our minds in language and kicking off the writing process, so here’s what I did this morning in my studio perched in the fog in English Bay (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).


Jacqueline's desk 

Coffee is necessary. In this, at least, I am consistent. My latest morning strategy is to start off making a list of words. I am not thinking yet, barely awake in fact. I just list whatever words come to mind, listening for the next one and writing it down. So fun. Really. No pressure to create a brilliant post-lyric or avant-lyric, I just have to make a list of words.

What I do next is based on an idea I got from reading Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary.

With the list beside me, I sit at my laptop, careful not to spill coffee on it, and write. Every time I stop or get stuck, I use one of the words. Clearly, they are on my mind in some way, so they must fit somehow. Here is the result this morning with italics indicating words taken from the list:


obstinately walk the sea edge black rock to rock
hey looking good today says the
bundled up man on the bench

capable of an excess of observation
i refrain, feel the flood of affect
flow through my chest like blood or rain

wonder if i was a scientist would i see
bodies cell by cell inside out would
a chest be a ribbonated box for a muscle
called politely the heart?

culpable in what i continuously cannot
see sear an obtuse hand tugging on my black jacket
i just need money for food he says

or the coldest day when a woman in sleeping bag
burns to death by the candle keeping her warm
3 a.m. in front of the seven eleven here in
this contentious bay where anger doesn’t
even help


It kind of works. I might even do it again tomorrow.


About Jacqueline:

Jacqueline Turner is the author of three collections Into the Fold, Careful and Seven Into Even. She lives in Vancouver, B.C. Her work has appeared in absinthe, West Coast Line, Rampike, qwerty, Tessera, and Fireweed. She has also published a number of chapbooks. She founded a literary magazine called Filling Station that has been publishing international writing for the last 10 years. In 2005, Turner was Queensland’s inaugural poet-in-residence at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Australia. Jacqueline teaches creative and critical writing at Simon Fraser University and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver.


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Filed under Poet's Breakfast