Daphne Marlatt. Courtesy Talonbooks.

Daphne Marlatt CM (born July 11, 1942) is a Canadian poet and novelist.


Marlatt was born Daphne Buckle in Melbourne, Australia, to English parents, Edrys (Lupprian) and Arthur Buckle.

When she was 3, Marlatt’s family moved to Penang, Malaysia, and when she was 9 they immigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Marlatt earned a B.A. from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1964. While at UBC, in 1963, she became an editor for Tish, the seminal Canadian literary journal

She traveled around the continent with her husband, Gordon Alan Marlatt, a clinical psychologist; they then settled down for a while in Bloomington, Indiana, where she earned an M.A. from Indiana University in comparative literature in 1968. There she started to write Frames of a Story (1968).

She began teaching writing and literature at Capilano College and also edited for the Capilano Review. In 1972 she published Vancouver Poems.

Marlatt and her husband, poet and artist Roy Kiyooka, divorced in the late 1970s and around the same time she and her son moved back to Vancouver. In 1977, The Story, She Said was published and so was her book, Zocalo, a collection of long poems about her travels through the Yucatán.

In 1977, Marlatt co-founded periodies: a magazine of prose (1977–81) and in 1981 published here & there. It was around this time that Marlatt became more involved in feminist concerns, and attended and organized several feminist conferences. In 1985 she co-founded Tessera, a feminist journal. Marlatt has called this period of her life “a time of transition for me as i tried to integrate my feminist reading with a largely male-mentored postmodernist poetic, at the same time coming out as a lesbian in my life as well as in my writing.”[1]

Marlatt can also be heard on the CD Like Light Off Water, Otter Bay, 2008, reading passages from her classic poetry cycle, Steveston. With music by Canadian composers Robert Minden and Carla Hallett, the CD offers a delicate resonance of microtonal nuance and lyrical intimacy surrounding Marlatt¹s poetic voicing, rhythm and imagery.

Marlatt has also taught at several colleges and universities. These include: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, Capilano College, University of Calgary, University of Manitoba, McMaster University, Mount Royal College, University of Saskatchewan, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria and University of Western Ontario. Marlatt also founded the West Coast Women and Words Society.

Marlatt is a student of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. She lives in Vancouver, B.C.


Markatt;s poetry, while considered extremely dense and difficult, is also much acclaimed.

In 1969, Marlatt published leaf leaf/s, a collection of shorter poems. In 1971, she published Rings, a collection of poems about pregnancy, birth, and early parenting.

Marlatt published a well known piece of hers, Steveston, in 1974. This piece is about a small fishing village that Marlatt explains in relation to its past history as a camp for Japanese Canadians during World War II.

In 1975, Marlatt published Our Lives, which BookRags called a piece about "organic implosions of relationships."

Robert Lecker, in the 1978 article “Perceiving It as It Stands” from Canadian Literature, says “Marlatt has every right to join Kay and Gerda in flight, for their predicament, and the development of their story, serve as a metaphor for the problems of growth encountered by a poet struggling to break away from the frames imposed by established word patterns and the falsities implied by a world view which categorizes experience, storytelling it in standardized form, as if the motion of living was always the same, always sane."

Marlatt’s, What Matters: Writing, 1968-1970, published in 1980, includes some of her early writings, including Rings and Vancouver Poems. Also in 1980 she published Net Work: Selected Writing, which contains new “confidence and authority”, according to Fred Wah, a professor at the University of Calgary. He goes on to say that “the flow of town and history, of the Japanese people and the cannery, especially of the river and language, are more securely rooted in place and concentrated in the writing consciousness than in any other of her books.” And according to, Net Work: Selected Writing is “a selection of poetry spanning from Frames of a Story (1968) to What Matters (1980) is an excellent cross-section of her early poetry.” It is through these pieces and earlier pieces that Marlatt’s feminist theory begins to emerge.

In 1983, Marlatt’s How Hug a Stone was published, which follows a journey traveled by herself and her son, in 1981, to England. In 1984, Touch to My Tongue was published. Both pieces “express her intense apprehension of the continually changing world.”, according to Douglas Barbour, an author of The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Marlatt created 2 books, Mauve (1985) and character/jeu de letters (1986), with Quebec feminist and writer Nicole Brossard. Double negative, a piece that was put together between Marlatt and Betsy Warland, her significant other, was published in 1988.

In 1988, Marlatt’s debut novel, Ana Historic, was published. This novel, according to, “ describes the experiences of women both historic and contemporary.” Marlatt describes her novel, Ana Historic, in a 2003 interview with Sue Kossew, a professor at the University of New South Wales, as follows: “I like rubbing the edges of document and memory/fiction against one another. I like the friction that is produced between the stark reporting of document, the pseudo-factual language of journalism, and the more emotional, even poetic, language of memory. That’s why I used such a hodgepodge of sources in Ana Historic: a little nineteenth-century and very local journalism that sounds like a gossip column, a 1906 school textbook, various historical accounts, some contemporary feminist theory, and a school teacher’s diary from 1873 that was completely fictitious.”

In 1991 appeared Marlatt’s piece, Salvage, which explores parts of Marlatt’s life and puts it together with a feminist’s point of view. In 1993 followed Ghost Works, which contains prose poems, letters, diary entries, short-line poems, and travel books to make a narrative.

In 1994, Two Women in a Birth, was published. This piece was written by both Marlatt and her significant other, Betsy Warland. “This collection of [poetry] represents 10 years of collaborative work by two of Canada's leading feminist writers” according to

In 1996, Marlatt’s 2nd novel, Taken was published. This novel is a tribute to women whose lives have been taken by war. In 2001, This Tremor Love Is was published. This Tremor Love is a collection of love poems over a period of 25 years, from Marlatt’s first writing to her most recent. A collection of poetry called Seven Glass Bowls, was published in 2003. According to Caroline Rosenthal, author of Narrative Deconstructions of Gender in Works by Audrey Thomas, Daphne Marlatt, and Louise Erdich, “Marlatt, in Ana Historic, challenges the regulatory fiction of heterosexuality. She offers her protagonist a way out into a new order that breaks with the law of the father, creating a "monstrous" text that explores the possibilities of a lesbian identity.”


Maratt has received the MacMillan and Brissenden prizes for creative writing;[2] a Canada Council award; and the Vancouver Mayor's Arts Award for Literary Arts.

In 2006, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian literature.

In popular cultureEdit

In 2006 Marlett and her work were the subject of an episode of the television series Heart of a Poet, produced by Canadian filmmaker Maureen Judge.



  • 12 poems [&] [10 poems]. Bloomington, IN: privately published, 1966-67.[2]
  • Frames of a Story. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1968.
  • Leaf Leaf/s. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow, 1969.
  • Rings. Vancouver: Vancouver Community Press, 1971.
  • Vancouver Poems. Toronto: Coach House, 1972.
  • Steveston (with photos by Robert Mindon). Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1974; Edmonton, AB: Longspoon Press, 1984; Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2001.
  • Our Lives. Carrboro, NC: Truck Press, 1975.
  • The Story, She Said. Vancouver, BC: British Columbia Monthly, 1977.[2]
  • Crossroads of A. St. Paul, Minn.: Truck Press, 1977.[2]
  • Coming Through. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1978.[2]
  • Solstice: Lunade. Buffalo, NY: The University Libraries, 1980.[2]
  • Life Expectancy. Vancouver: Slug Press, 1980.[2]
  • What Matters: Writing, 1968-1970. Toronto: Coach House, 1980.
  • here & there. Lantzville, BC: Island Writing Series, 1981.
  • Slug Press. [Broadside poems published by Slug Press]. Vancouver: Slug Press, 1979-1982.[2]
  • How Hug a Stone. Winnipeg, MB: Turnstone Press, 1983.
  • Touch to My Tongue (artwork by Cheryl Sourkes). Edmonton, AB: Longspoon Press, 1984.
  • Mauve (with Nicole Brossard). Montreal: Nouvelle barre du jour, 1985.
  • character/jeu de letters (with Nicole Brossard). 1986.
  • Double Negative (with Betsy Warland). Charlottetown, PEI: Gynergy Books, 1988.[2]
  • Salvage. Red Deer, AB: Red Deer College Press, 1991.
  • Ghost Works. Edmonton: NeWest, 1993.
  • Two Women in a Birth (with Betsy Warland). Toronto: Guernica, 1994.
  • Taken. Concord, ON: House of Anansi Press, 1996.
  • This Tremor Love Is. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2001.
  • Seven Glass Bowls. Vancouver: Nomados, 2003.
  • The Given. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2008.[3]
  • Liquidities: Vancouver poems then and now. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2013.[3]
  • Rivering: The poetry of Daphne Marlatt (edited by Susan Lynne Knutson).Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014.[3]


  • The Gull (with Japanese translation by Toyoshi Yoshihara). Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2009.[3]


  • Zócalo. Toronto: Coach House, 1977.
  • Ana Historic: A novel. Toronto: Coach House, 1988.
  • Taken. Concord, ON: Anansi, 1996.


  • Opening Doors: Vancouver’s East End (with Carole Itter). 1979.
  • Readings from the Labyrinth (literary criticism). Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1998.

Collected editionsEdit

  • Net Work: Selected writing (edited by Fred Wah). Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1980.


  • Steveston Recollected: A Japanese-Canadian history. Victoria, BC: Aural History, Provincial Archives of British Columbia, 1975.
Daphne Marlatt - Fred Wah and Friends Poetry Reading; Vancouver, BC Canada (part 4 of 7)

Daphne Marlatt - Fred Wah and Friends Poetry Reading; Vancouver, BC Canada (part 4 of 7)

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy Athabasca University.[1].

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 Daphne Marlatt, English-Canadian Writers, Athabasca University. Web, Apr. 7, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Daphne Marlatt 1942- , Canadian Women Poets, Brock University,, Web, June 7, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Search results = au:Daphne Marlatt, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Dec. 2, 2014.

External linksEdit

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