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Daphne Marlatt (née Buckle) was born July 11, 1942, in Melbourne, Australia. She spent her early childhood in Penang, Malaysia, and immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, with her family in 1951. She studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she became involved with the group of young poets known as the "TISH group," so named for the poetry newsletter they published and contributed to. In 1963, she married Gordon Alan Marlatt, and in 1964 earned her Bachelor of Arts from UBC. She moved with her husband to Bloomington, Indiana, and received an MA in Comparative Literature from Indiana University in 1968. In 1969, she gave birth to her son Kit, and in 1970 returned to Vancouver and separated from her husband. In 1971, she began teaching at writing and literature at Capilano College, where she also edited poetry for the literary magazine “The Capilano Review.”
Marlatt is the author of many books of poetry, including “Frames of a Story” (1968), “How Hug a Stone” (1983), "Touch to my Tongue" (1984), "Salvage" (1991), "Ghost Works" (1993), "This Tremor Love Is" (2001), “The Given” (2008), and “Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now" (2013). Her poetic style has been described as dense and deconstructionist, and her writing has addressed themes such as motherhood, feminism, lesbianism, and post-colonialism. Her work often defies classification, spanning genre categories such as autobiography, travelogue, essay, historical fiction and journal. She has published the novels “Zócalo” (1977) “Taken” (1996) and “Ana Historic” (1997), the art/poetry books “Winter/Rice/Tea Strain” (2000) and “Between Brush Strokes” (2008), and the chapbook “Seven Glass Bowls” (2003). She has written a Japanese Noh-inspired play “The Gull” (2009), and wrote the script for the short film "The Portside" (2009).
Marlatt has also contributed to several collaborative projects and publications. The book “Steveston” (1974, republished in 2001) features poems by Marlatt and photographs by Robert Minden about the eponymous fishing community (now part of the city of Richmond, British Columbia) and its Japanese-Canadian community. Her book “Opening Doors in Vancouver's East End: Strathcona” (1979, republished in 2011), co-edited with Carole Itter, is a work that documents the history and culture of Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood through oral history interviews with community members. In 1988, she co-authored the poetry book “Double Negative” with her then-partner Betsy Warland. She also composed the libretto for the chamber opera “Shadow Catch” (2011), which explores the cultural history of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Marlatt has frequently worked as a editor of both books and periodicals. In 1977, she co-founded the literary magazine "Periodics" with Paul de Barros. The magazine was an offshoot of TISH, and ran until 1981. In 1984 she co-founded "Tessera," a journal of feminist literary theory and writing, with Barbara Godard, Kathy Mezei, and Gail Scott. She also edited the book “Mothertalk: Life Stories of Mary Kiyoshi Kiyooka" (1997), a posthumous book by Roy Kiyooka, with whom she had a relationship in the 1970s.
Alongside her writing and editing, Marlatt has served as an instructor of creative writing and literature, teaching at Capilano College, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, the University of Saskatchewan, and Simon Fraser University. In 2007, she was writer-in-residence in the department of English & Cultural Studies at McMaster University, as well as the Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Calgary. She was the 2008 Distinguished Poet in the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Chair at Vancouver Island University, and she led the Poetry Colloquium at the Sage Hill Writing Experience from 2008 to 2010.
Marlatt has received numerous awards of recognition for her work. In 2006 she was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian Literature. She won the 2008 Uchimura Naoya Prize for "The Gull," and the 2009 Dorothy Livesay Prize for “The Given.” In 2012 she was the 19th recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award, which honours an outstanding literary career in British Columbia. She holds honourary doctorates from the University of Western Ontario and Mount St. Vincent University.
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Revised April 2016, NT.