Ryan Fitzpatrick recently completed a PhD at Simon Fraser University and is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He is the author of two books of poetry: Fortified Castles (Talonbooks, 2014) and Fake Math (Snare, 2007). With Jonathan Ball, he edited Why Poetry Sucks: An Anthology of Humorous Experimental Canadian Poetry (Insomniac, 2014). With Deanna Fong and Janey Dodd, he worked on the Fred Wah Digital Archive.
In this article, I read the poetry of Lisa Robertson and Mercedes Eng, both of whom stage, confront, and critique the capitalist and colonial processes that stabilize and destabilize the material relations that compose Vancouver in the twenty-first century. As processes, stabilization and destabilization involve both the ways a space is subject to change and the ways that individual actors can affect those changes. Both Robertson and Eng respond to a city that is repeatedly hailed both as one of the world’s most livable cities and as one of the most unaffordable—a city of condos and cranes, scaffolds, and tent encampments. When we read Robertson’s and Eng’s texts together, a potent tension emerges between the theoretical possibilities and material realities of instability—a tension that can help us think through the potentials of poetry to transform spaces and spatial relations.
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