Meredith Quartermain's Page

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Meredith Quartermain's most recent book is Lullabies in the Real World (published by NeWest Press). Before that: U Girl: a novel and I, Bartleby: short stories (Talonbooks). Vancouver Walking won the BC Book Award  for Poetry in 2006, Nightmarker was a finalist for the 2009 Vancouver Book Award, and Recipes from the Red Planet was a finalist for the 2011 BC Book Award for Fiction. Her poems have appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2018 and 2009 and her essay "T'ang's Bathtub: Innovative Work by Four Canadian Poets" was named best essay in Canadian Literature 2012. Her work has appeared in magazines across Canada including The Walrus, Canadian Literature, the Literary Review of Canada, Matrix, The Capilano Review, West Coast Line, filling Station, and Prism International. She taught English Literature and Composition at UBC and Capilano College, and has enjoyed leading workshops at TIA House, the Naropa Summer Writing Program, the Kootenay School of Writing and the Toronto New School of Writing. From 2002 to 2020, she and husband Peter Quartermain operated Nomados Literary Publishers, through which they published 51 books of innovative writing, mainly poetry. Meredith Quartermain was the 2012 Writer in Residence at the Vancouver Public Library, and the Poetry Mentor in The Writer's Studio at Simon Fraser University for 2014, 2015 and 2016.


Lullabies in the Real World from NeWest Press

“Playful and serious, waving to bpNichol, Robin Blaser, and Homer, Meredith Quartermain questions and elicits the classic cross-Canada poetic journey. Her cut-ups and substantiations, echoes and plot decoys, rhythmic clickings, bilanguaged mashups and toponomastic calibrations bring us a joyous un-epic, full of Learning Coordinators, museums, watercourses, city streets, and the inside/outside of identity and weather, historical and new.”

Erín Moure

“Meredith Quartermain torques the fabric of language to move us across the Canadian landscape between train tracks, tanneries, and graffiti tags with the rhythm of a dancing ear and a flaneuse’s critical eye. These are poems made of breath, rifts, and music, at once impressionistic and precise. They unsettle history and make us party.”

Shazia Hafiz Ramji, author of Port of Being

 “Ride the Quartermain line. Steam across Canada on the milkiest of runs with this guide, alert always to the particular ecological, historical, and literary strata of places. With language as its engine, Lullabies goes irrepressibly off the rails at every turn, and in those detours shows us where we live.”

Susan Holbrook, author of Throaty Wipes

"In Lullabies in the Real World, Meredith Quartermain takes us 'backwards,' by train, along the literal tracks laid down by the colonial enterprise that made Canada. Her poems shush and clunk to us as we move across over-storied territories, not to lull us to sleep but to wake us out of false knowing. Her sound-songs challenge our attachment to colonial place names and histories, spinning new yarns of possibility to unknow, unremember and unharm. Quartermain's earnest unmappings help us imagine a futurity 'before sixty-second minutes,' in fuller harmony with the lands' long histories."

Sonnet L'Abbé, author of Sonnet's Shakespeare


U Girl: a novel from Talonbooks

AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR MEREDITH QUARTERMAIN’S second novel, U Girl, captures the freedom and exploration of 1970s Vancouver, a city crossed between love-in hip and forest-corp square. Quartermain pays homage to communal living, life on campus, local haunts, and literary influences in equal measure, taking us through sexual exper­imentation, drugs, jobs, meditating on Wreck Beach, sailing up through Desolation Sound, and studying at the University of British Columbia.

 “Bad student meals, getting disastrously drunk, smoking weed, having sex with the wrong people: all of the stuff of youth is here, entertainingly and sympathetically recounted.”VANCOUVER SUN

 “A novel about what it’s like to be a woman who reads, thinks, hopes, and desires; and how love is different from and yet related to sex. It’s also about a woman writing a novel and shows us how we come to be ourselves through the interplay of thought and action. Captured here are place, voice, and texture, and also heartbreak, friendship, and possibility. Brilliant!”—LARISSA LAI

 “Feisty, sometimes comic, sometimes heartbreaking, but always compelling, Meredith Quartermain’s coming-to-writing story deftly navigates the U-turns of U Girl.” —PAULINE BUTLING

 “A tidal wave of emotion, reflection, and new perceptions. A masterpiece!” —THE UBYSSEY


Praise for I, Bartleby: short stories (Talonbooks)

Click here for Renée Saklikar's conversation with Quartermain about I, Bartleby

(all four parts are now posted on thecanaadaproject)

"Above all, it's Meredith Quartermain's dexterity in channelling lives and landscapes to explore the symptoms of our post-millennial malaise that make I, Bartleby both wickedly smart and fun to read." Malahat Review

"I, Bartleby is Meredith Quartermain's gift to the careful reader who lives to be awestruck. Not long into this intertextual and intercultural opus, you understand that you'll be reading it not just in the future, but in the future after the future; the ineluctable pleasure of it expects your return. As the author says, 'I've opened a box I can't close' – and so it is that I feel about I, Bartleby: the text is open, the words are out, and Meredith Quartermain's work explodes all notions of containment." Wayde Compton

"Meredith Quartermain continues to extend her impressive exploration into poet’s prose and the “fictive certainties” of an alternate imaginary. What I love about these prose feints at their various subjects is that genre is impossible to pin down – prose poems? Essays? Fictions? Memoir? Like Borges, it’s impossible to tell and beside the point. What we encounter is unmistakably thinking – in, through, and at times it even seems by language, from which the authorial Bartlebys have excused themselves. This is masterful writing about writing and difference—with a difference – where we “swim among the constitution of words,” place, and memory."    Stephen Collis


"Short stories? prose poems? feuilletons? these evocative meditations  are imaginative flânerie, each one opening a portal to a world of personal nuance, archival investigation, the mysteries of marking, writing, and interpreting, and the cost these exact.  Each is a portal to the foreignness and oddness of the everyday, the paths walked--as in Vancouver tracking the poignant traces of a First Nations woman writer and activist, as in the evocation of prior writers and their turmoil, as in the brilliant fantasia on Malcolm Lowry and Margerie Bonner Lowry that closes the book. We find the allusive prediction of Quartermain's career as a writer in her father's business of sign painting and in her witty variations on Chinese ideograms. With rich and quirky metaphors evoked by passing encounters, with her proud gendered sensibility while facing culture, with vivid details of the real and the imagined looping excitingly together--Meredith Quartermain has created a writerly book of great panache."  Rachel Blau DuPlessis


"In I, Bartleby, Meredith Quartermain chips away the deadwood of dry syntax exposing the raw and revealing the new. Each line is a branching event budding fresh images and ideas. An exciting read." Grant Buday


Praise for Rupert's Land: a novel

"Quartermain brilliantly evokes the dustbowl setting and its effect on her characters. . . The background of despair is familiar from writers like Sinclair Ross, but the way Quartermain brings an age to life while staring unflinchingly at its attitudes and injustices through the eyes of children is reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird. The same innocent intelligence that characterizes Scout in that novel informs Cora's and Hunter's acute observations conveyed in a blend of pitch perfect dialogue and inner voices." Margaret Thompson, Coastal Spectator

"The best fiction brings serious issues into sharper focus. Rupert’s Land did this for me because the storyline includes Indian residential schools in Canada — although this is the furthest thing from a preachy book. Gifted Canadian poet Meredith Quartermain shows rather than tells." Linda Diebel, Toronto Star

"Canadians are – very belatedly – starting to come to grips with the reprehensible treatment of First Nations peoples in their history and its legacy of pain in the present; Quartermain's novel contributes to that process." Publishers Weekly


On the back cover

“Dispossession in various forms haunts this historical novel. Wild longing, tart dialogue, and acute perception bring Meredith Quartermain’s child-narrators alive in their dustbowl world of few options. A remarkable first novel.” Daphne Marlatt

“Reminiscent of Sheila Watson, Quartermain weaves the richness of myth with a parched, impoverished landscape. Enduring family histories sustain two youngsters from opposite sides of the tracks as they converge in a desperate trek through Rupert’s Land.” Vanessa Winn

“Quartermain handles each character with exquisite care backed with extensive research allowing each to seek ‘another way to be’ so that we can search our own biases too. Written precisely and poignantly, Rupert’s Land seems destined to become a Canadian classic.” Jacqueline Turner


Praise for  Recipes from the Red Planet:

"These stories simply delighted me. Their broken turns of logic and semantics are lovely and reflect, somehow, the way I think. To read and reread." Erín Moure, Attention Span (Third Factory)

"Both literary grazers and devoted followers of this fearlessly droll explorer will unearth much to admire in her daring (though never daunting) out-of-this-world feast. Satisfaction guaranteed." Judith Fitzgerald, Globe & Mail.

On the back cover

Near the end of these wry and witty pages we are told of someone from Ontario, and the same page asks, Where is Ontario from? The same could be asked of the Red Planet, or Quartermain’s ingredients: her lists, her seemingly endless strings of relations made tastier by the weight of form, be they tales, news reports, voice imitations. Metaphysics, local history, classics, astronomy – the reference range is vast, but so is the contemporary experience. A rising crust! Michael Turner

Recipes from the Red Planet cooks books for deep space dining, rolls out the dough of language and shapes it into buttery crescents that are supernaturally textured and interactive with daily life. Meredith Quartermain’s solar system blows asteroid dust through the patriarchy and oven roasts the alphabet to a lovely golden crisp. Whipped by interplanetary winds we meet the immortals of the ancient world inverted and propelled into negative space. Their ground delineates our figures, neatly attired in dresses we’ve sewn ourselves from Simplicity patterns. Here are the recipes that will free Rapunzel from her tower. Here are all the blue radishes you can eat.  Larissa Lai


Praise for Nightmarker and Matter:

Eco-poetic works, in their move towards an abandonment of the self, reach sites of experimentation that are among the most radical in recent poetry. Perhaps the two most noteworthy titles in this respect are those published by Meredith Quartermain in 2008. . . . The poems of Matter are prescient, daring, and push readers to unthink the things that they think even as they read. Similarly, the prose poems of Quartermain's Nightmarker explore humankind as, itself, a sprawling city of impulses. . . . Quartermain's experiments in undoing the knot of human understanding force us to ask questions like "what could Canada mean to Pangaea?" . . . undercutting our sense of ourselves as animals imbued with anything to set us apart from the remainder of infinity. Kit Dobson, Dalhousie Review

Praise for Matter:

In one poem, she refers to "a quaggy wild / around Man's island of sense." That "quaggy wild" is exactly where this inventive poet sets up shop, blurring the division between animate and inanimate, and fabricating her own brand of metaphysics for understanding how the world works. Barbara Carey, Toronto Star

Praise for Vancouver Walking:

Packing a centuries-wise arsenal of research, Quartermain's poetic tour . . . reads the downtown's every street sign and historical plaque to invoke not vagaries of weather or a sensitive narrator's emotional landscape, but the lived epic of how specific native soil became appropriated to a condition of contemporary real estate.  Margaret Christakos, Globe & Mail

With Vancouver Walking, Meredith Quartermain enters the esteemed literary company of  George Bowering, Daphne Marlatt, Frank Davey, Jeff Derksen and others who have written the multitudinous city, exploring Vancouver as a moving target for poetry.  . . . Under Quartermain's gaze, even the most local Vancouver story becomes a link to the greater world, transforming the city into a cosmopolis made of the mad whirls of history, in constant motion with the fates of its living (and long dead) millions.  Marc Christensen, Monday Magazine


Interview with Renee Saklikar in The Canada Project

Interview with rob mclennan in Queen Mob's Teahouse

"Meredith Quartermain’s Radical Acts: An Interview with Kim Minkus" (2012) The Capilano Review Blog

Interview with Rob Mclennan (2008): 12 or 20 Questions

Interview by Aaron Peck (2003)



Selected Publications




U Girl: a novel (Talonbooks 2016)


I, Bartleby: short stories (Talonbooks 2015)


Rupert's Land: a novel (NeWest Press 2013)


Recipes from the Red Planet (BookThug 2010) finalist for 2011 BC Book Award for Fiction


Nightmarker (NeWest 2008) finalist for the 2009 Vancouver Book Award


Matter (BookThug 2008)


Vancouver Walking (NeWest 2005)  Winner 2006 BC Book Award for Poetry

“Walking cinemas, civic memory tours, these poems are sites for the eruption of public history chronically denied but there as trace in the very names that mark our streets.  Meredith Quartermain's observant eye tracks what underlies or surrounds our daily routine, she sees what routine blinds us to, and in the process constructs some wonderfully trenchant slices of contemporary city life.”      —Daphne Marlatt

“In Vancouver Walking Meredith Quartermain sights the coordinates of tangible and historical attentions as she moves through an amazement of place and language. The word here is foot and eye, step by step, crisscrossing the city with the grids and layers of its own minute particulars and articulating the truth of the imagination, the dynamics of the intersect. These poems listen carefully to the yearning of place, the kind of naming a city answers to.”               —Fred Wah


Chapbooks & Broadsides


The Eye-Shift of Surface (Greenboathouse Books 2003) 


A Thousand Mornings (Nomados 2002)

Meredith Quartermain has really struck gold with A Thousand Mornings, a serious-playful and engaging work in which she weighs and sounds what presents itself outside a real window, inside language, and through verbal-emotional associations. Written in pointillist phrases, diaristic, notational, associative, punning, funning and just following any track, the work sits down to itself: to the world, and to the self in time. It considers all the little bits and details of domestic life and the thinking these can engender.  "Looking out of the window of my room is a window looking out my head."  This work creates an osmotic border between seeing and writing, a realist hypnogogic passage between memory and today, between outside and inside, between now and then.  That anywhere is everywhere is proven once again with this brave, enchanting book. Rachel Blau DuPlessis

[with Robin Blaser] Wanders (Nomados 2002) 

An amazing, even jaw dropping performance . . . . her poems absolutely stand up to the challenge of Blaser's own . . . . The sum of it is totally exhilarating. . . . Ron Silliman

Spatial Relations (Diaeresis 2001)


Terms of Sale (Meow 1996)



Magazines & Anthologies: Recent Publications


Four Poems The Capilano Review 3.38 (2019): 37-39


Eight Poems Golden Handcuffs Review 27 (2019): 61-70


Two Poems Event 47.3 (2019/19): 47-8


Letter to bp on train crossing the Rockies" Best Canadian Poetry in English (2018): 41


Three Poems The Malahat Review 204 (2018): 73-76


Three Poems filling Station 69 (2018): 8-10


"Canada Rail" The Dalhousie Review (2018): 263


"Time Out of Mind" and "River: mouth: breath" Golden Handcuffs Review 25 (2018): 46-48


"Fair Trade" Sustenance Anthology ed. Rachel Rose (2017): 191-2


Letter to bp" Prism 56.1 (fall 2017): 38-39. Reprinted Best Canadian Poetry 2018.


"From Lullabies in the Real World" Poetry is Dead 14 (2016): 21


Five Prose Poems, Make it True: Poetry from Cascadia ed. Paul Nelson et al (2015): 241-245


"The Law Librarian" Raising Lilly Ledbetter ed. Carolyne Wright et al (2015): 127


"Moccasin Box" Golden Handcuffs Review 1.20 (2015): 188-199


"Manifesto" Canada & Beyond 3:1-2 (2013) Online.

"Remembering" and "I and Christine" filling Station 57 (2013), 37-8.

"Mén," "Bàba," "Māma," "Mèimei," "Māo," "Pictograms for Daphne," Golden Handcuffs Review 1:17 (Fall-Winter 2013-14), 36-42.

"Morning Fog Patches" [one of 10 Canadian Poets ed. Rob Mclennan] New American Writing, ed. Paul Hoover and Maxine Chernoff (San Francisco: College of Liberal and Creative Arts, 2013), 142-143.

Poems by Meredith Quartermain in Canadian Literature ("Big News Café," "For Robin Blaser," "New Albion") See Canadian Literature Poets Online.

"Matter 25," "Matter 26," "Discovery at Sea 21" and "Sun" Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia.

"Bù" and "Hăi" The Capilano Review 3.19 (2013): 64-65.

"If I Bartleby," "A Natural History of the Throught," "Out of the dark," and "How to converse" Prism 50:4 (Summer 2012): 45-48

"Silence" One More Once: for Pierre Coupey's 70th (North Vancouver: Cue Books, 2012): 84-86.

"Buddies" West Coast Line 72 (Winter 2012): 78-83.

"One cannot" Eleven Eleven 11 (2011) 247 [San Francisco].

"Four Microfictions" Golden Handcuffs Review 1.14 (2011): 43-47.


"The Not of What She Didn't Know" [10 pieces from Recipes from the Red Planet]. The Capilano Review 3.12 (2010): 49-58.


"from Rupert's Land [a novel]" West Coast Line 65 (2010): 4-9.


"Becoming a Waitress," "Sewing," "Tangled Relations," "Gadzooks," Event Magazine 39.1 (2010): 54-57


"He imagined a seawall," Matrix 84 (fall 2009): 19


“Canada,” “The Plackener,” “Directors Change Directions,” and “Heat Haze” Dandelion 34.2  (2009): 84-87


“Cathedral” and “Scaffolding,” A Verse Map of Vancouver, ed. George McWhirter. Vancouver: Anvil, 2009: 92 and 104


“Clouds,” “Wind,” “Frost” and “Sun” Windsor Review 42.1 [Windsor] (Spring 2009): 16-19


“Delicacy” and “Victory Square” to topoz Poetry International [Poverty and Poetry] (Fall 2008): 74, 75.

 "Future Past," Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary B.C. Poetry.
Ed. Mona Fertig & Harold Rhenisch (Mother Tongue 2008)

"The Wife of Gassy Jack" and "On my way to the overpass" West Coast Line [Roy Miki issue] (Spring 2008)


"Six Microfictions" Golden Handcuffs Review 1.10 (Summer-Fall 2008)


"Song of the Dodo," The Capilano Review 3.4 (Winter 2008)


"Bird City," The Walrus (Jan/Feb 2008)


"Banking," "Rain," "Islands," and "My Library," Windsor Review 40.2 (Fall 2007)

"Apprehensions," West Coast Line 54 (2007) [10 poems accompanying 10 photo/drawings by Rhoda Rosenfeld]

"Matter 15: Water and air words evaporate" in Philip Coleman, ed. On Literature and Science (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007)


"Queen Dreams," "Scaffolding," "Her Majesty Versus Murdock," and "Hacky Sack," The Capilano Review 3.1&2 (2007)


"Brain Coral," "Omnibus," "Defiance" and "A Piece of Cake," Event Magazine 35.2 (2006)


"Oliver Chronicle," CV2 28.4 (Spring 2006) rpt


"Pacific Northwest," Literary Review of Canada (April 2005)




"Narrative Clocks" The Capilano Review Blog (2013). Online.

"Narrative Eyes" The Capilano Review Blog (2013). Online.

Response to Jen Currin's "Before Midnight" The Capilano Review Blog (2013). Online.

"The Wah in the water: on a reading by Fred Wah," Jacket 2 (2013). Online.

"How Fiction Works: Gail Scott's Heroine and The Obituary." Open Letter14.9 [Gail Scott Issue] (Summer 2012): 112-127.

"T'ang's Bathtub" Canadian Literature 210/211 (2012): 116-132. Awarded Best Essay in Canadian Literature 2012.

"George Stanley: the Metaphysics of Place." The Capilano Review 3.14 (Spring 2011). 176-183.

"On Lisa Robertson: Re Writing" Open Letter (Spring 2011)


"George Stanley: the Metaphysics of Place" The Capilano Review 3.14 (Spring 2011)


"Irony's Rhyme" [on Sharon Thesen] The Capilano Review 3.5 (Spring 2008)


"Irony's Eye: David Bromige" Golden Handcuffs Review 1.10 (Summer-Fall 2008)


“Innocent Looking Faces:  Typography at (m)Öthêr Tøñgué Presš and Greenboathouse Books”  Open Letter (Fall 2004)


Postscript: On Klaus Scherübel (Artspeak 2004)


"Gertrude Stein," Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Poets (1880-1945), Volume 54: Third Series, Part 2 (Detroit: Gale Research, 1987)



Reviews and Other Writings

[Review] "Undulations: The Alchemist's Mind ed. David Miller" Golden Handcuffs Review 1.17 (Fall-Winter 2013-14): 188-192.

[Review] "Susan Steudel, New Theatre; Helen Guri, Match; Stuart Ross, You Exist. Details to Follow" Event 41.3 (2012): 104-107.

[Review] "News from New Star: Roy Miki, Mannequin Rising; Donato Mancini, Buffet World; Stan Persky & Brian Fawcett, Robin Blaser" Canadian Literature 210/211 (Autumn/ Winter 2011) 252-253.

[Review] "The Bees: Humming by Maurice Scully." Golden Handcuffs Review 1:13 (Summer-Fall 2010).

[Review] A Poetics of Fragments: Ananios of Kleitor: Poems & Fragments and Their Reception from Antiquity to the Present by George Economou Golden Handcuffs Review 1.13 (2010).


[Review] Reimagining Canadian Poetry: Writing in Our Time: Canada's Radical Poetries in English (1957-2003) by Pauline Butling and Susan Rudy.  Poetic Front (Spring 2009).


[Review] Surfing the Fragments: Transversals for Orpheus & the untitled 1-13 by Garry Thomas Morse; A few Words Will Do by Lionel Kearns; ths is erth thees ar peopul by bill bissett Canadian Literature 198 (Autumn 2008).


[Review] Poetry Weather: Nerve Squall by Sylvia Legris; The Silver Palace Restaurant by Mark Abley; Ink Monkey by Diana Hartog; Re:Zoom by sheri-d wilson Canadian Literature 193 (Summer 2007).


[Review] Reimagining Canadian Poetry: Writing in Our Time: Canada's Radical Poetries in English (1957-2003) by Pauline Butling and Susan Rudy.  Literary Review of Canada (December 2005).


[Review] Are You One of Canada’s Embarrassing Poets?: poets talk: Conversations with Robert Kroetsch, Daphne Marlatt, Erin Mouré, Dionne Brand, Marie Annharte Baker, Jeff Derksen and Fred Wah, by Pauline Butling and Susan Rudy. Terminal City, March 12, 2005.


[Review] Lyrical Prose: Discrete Categories Forced into Coupling by Kathleen Fraser Jacket 26 (2005).


[Review] A Song in Murderous Time – The Poetry of Richard Caddel, Ecopoetics 4/5(2004-2005).


[Review] Round About Seeing: Around Sea, by Brenda Ijima Jacket 25 (2004)


[Review] Undecorating the Lyric: Word Group, by Marjorie Welish Jacket 25 (2004)


[Review] Words for Darkness: Writing in the Dark by Richard Caddel Jacket 25 (2004)


[Review] Minesweep: Paravane: New and Selected Poems 1996-2003 by Frances Presley Jacket 25 (2004)


[Review] Wanted: The Author: Jill Hartman, A Painted Elephant; derek beaulieu

with wax; Kimmy Beach, Alarum Within: Theatre PoemsCanadian Literature, Online (2004).


[Review] "Lyric Capability: the Syntax of Robin Blaser" Jacket 22 (2003); Capilano Review (Fall 2003)


[Review] "Un-identified Selves: Denise Riley on Writing Others who Write Us" West Coast Line (Winter 2001-02)


[Review ] A Key into the Language of America by Rosmarie Waldrop and Mars by Norma Cole, West Coast Line (Fall 1995)


[Review] A Poetics by Charles Bernstein, West Coast Line (Winter 1992-93)


[Review] The Black Debt by Steve McCaffery, West Coast Line (Fall 1991)


[Radio Interview] Colin Browne on The New Poetics Colloquium, for Monitor on CBC (broadcast 12 October 1985)


[Radio Interview] Daphne Marlatt on "Ana Historic," for Monitor on CBC (broadcast 30 November 1985)


Not For Ourselves Alone: 50 Years At York House School, 1932-1982 (York House School, 1983)



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