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Daphne Marlatt 1942-

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(Full name Daphne Buckle Marlatt) Australian-born Canadian poet, novelist, critic, and editor.

The following entry presents an overview of Marlatt's career through 2000.

Distinguished as a daring experimentalist and one of Canada's leading feminist writers, Marlatt has created a complex, multifaceted literary style aimed at dissecting gender politics and male-biased histories. In such volumes of poetry as What Matters: Writing 1968-1970 (1980) and Touch to My Tongue (1984), and in her historical novel, Ana Historic (1988), Marlatt employs sophisticated poststructuralist techniques to unmask and subvert patriarchal linguistic hierarchies that have traditionally silenced the voice of women in literature. Marlatt is also a noted critic; her collection of essays, Readings from the Labyrinth (1998), placed her at the forefront of feminist theory and established her as a leading historian of feminist thought in Canada. Marlatt's aesthetic approach, while intensely personal and sensuous, is lauded for both its academic rigor and its avoidance of concrete, binary paradigms, allowing her readers to find their own meanings in her work.

Biographical Information

Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1942, Marlatt moved with her family to Malaysia at the end of the Second World War. Her parents, Arthur and Edrys Buckle, were British citizens; Marlatt's father was a successful businessman. After a brief stay in England, the Buckles moved to North Vancouver, Canada, in 1951. Marlatt would later credit her early experiences in Malaysia with fostering her awareness of colonial oppression and her appreciation for the rich diversity of language. Marlatt studied literature at the University of British Columbia, earning her bachelor's degree in 1964. She married Alan Marlatt, a psychology student, in 1963. The couple pursued their respective academic careers at various schools in Canada and North America throughout the 1960s. Soon after graduation, Marlatt began publishing poems in Canadian literary magazines. In 1968 she completed her master's degree at Indiana University and published her first poetry volume, Frames of a Story. The next year, Marlatt gave birth to a son, Christopher, and published another volume of poetry, Leaf Leaf/s (1969). By late 1970 Marlatt had separated from her husband, returning to Vancouver with Christopher. In 1971 Marlatt published Rings, a volume of poems on motherhood, which she followed with Vancouver Poems (1972), a collection of poems about the city and the surrounding area. Marlatt took a teaching position at Capilano College in North Vancouver in 1973, where she taught and edited the school's literary journal until 1976. In 1974 Marlatt published Steveston, which earned positive reviews and cemented her growing national reputation. Marlatt's success was enhanced in 1980 with the publication of Net Work: Selected Writing, and What Matters, an ambitious volume of poetry and prose considered to be her first truly feminist work. In 1982 Marlatt began an affair with poet Betsy Warland, with whom she published two volumes of collaborative poetry, Double Negative (1988), a series of lesbian love poems, and Two Women in a Birth (1994); their relationship came to an end in 1994. In 1983 Marlatt joined a feminist literary collective along with Barbara Godard, Gail Scott, and Kathy Mezei, and the group published the journal Tessera with which she remained affiliated until 1991. The 1980s were a fertile period for Marlatt, during which she published How Hug a Stone (1983), including poems that recount a trip to England with her son, Touch to My Tongue, a poetry volume in which she solidified her ideas about language, and Ana Historic, a major feminist historical novel. Throughout her career, Marlatt has taught at various colleges, including University of Western Ontario, Simon Fraser University, and the University of British Columbia.

Major Works

(The entire section contains 1891 words.)

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Principal Works