Many in Vernon know the story of Sveva Caetani and her family, and now thanks to an award-winning author, her story is about to reach new territory.
On Oct. 15, Vancouver novelist and poet Daphne Marlatt will read from her new book of poetry, Reading Sveva (published by Talon Books), at the former home of the Caetanis, which now operates as a cultural centre in Vernon.
“The Caetani centre is pleased to host this unique event in the newly opened Caetani studio and gallery space,” said Susan Brandoli, centre manager. “Beloved teacher, mentor, artist and writer Sveva Caetani donated her house and grounds to the City of Vernon following her death in 1994, and the Caetani Cultural Centre is a both a tribute to her own life’s work and a shining example of persevering over adversity.”
Marlatt’s lasting interest in the lives of immigrants to the West Coast continues in Reading Sveva, said to be a thoughtful collection of ekphrastic and lyric poems that respond to Caetani’s insular life, the late beginnings of her artistic growth in 1960, and the meaning of home.
Bringing her own perspective as an immigrant (from Australia) and as a woman, Marlatt illuminates the life of this forgotten female artist, whose work is a testament to the struggle of the female artist, and the search for a sense of belonging.
Marlatt was at the centre of the West Coast poetry movement of the 1960s, studying at UBC and with many of Donald Allen’s New American Poets, most notably Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan. Her writing includes prose narratives on the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver and of Steveston and several poetry books.
Marlatt has been a featured poet on the Heart of a Poet series, produced in conjunction with Bravo! TV. Her recent work includes The Gull, the first Canadian play staged in the ancient, ritualized tradition of Japanese noh theatre, and winner of the prestigious 2008 Uchimura Naoya Prize.
In 2006, Marlatt was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished service to Canadian culture.
In 2009, she was awarded the Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry, for her innovative long poem The Given, and in 2012 she received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her reading at the Caetani Cultural Centre, Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., begins with an introduction by well-known local instructor, musician, writer and poet John Lent, who describes Marlatt as one of his favourite writers. A musical performance by Lent and Mark Nishihara and a reception will follow the reading.
For more information, visit caetani.org.