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New Vancouver Public Library map reveals hidden Literary Landmarks

03/16/2015 09:37 EDT | Updated 05/16/2015 05:59 EDT
A new project from the Vancouver Public Library celebrates 26 writers who have lived in Vancouver, honouring them with permanent plaques around the city, all featured on an interactive map.

The Literary Landmarks project includes authors like Margaret Atwood, Douglas Coupland and Malcolm Lowry, and their ties to specific locations in Vancouver.

"What this project does so beautifully is it extends the library out onto the street," said Daphne Wood, the director of planning and organizational development at the Vancouver Public Library.

Wood says the project came about when chief librarian Sandra Singh met with long-time library supporter and poet Yosef Wosk.

"He really expressed interest in bringing stories to the streetscape, to share more of our literary heritage with people who are in Vancouver," said Wood.

Alan Twigg, the publisher of B.C. Bookworld, selected the locations and wrote the text on the plaques, which are also reflected on the interactive map.

"I was happy to supply my knowledge because I've spent the last 30 years writing about B.C. authors," said Twigg.

In 1986, Twigg wrote Vancouver & Its Writers: A Guide to Literary Landmarks for the city's centennial.

Lowry's lament to 'joylessness of Vancouver' 

Twigg says one of the first authors who sprang to mind when he was invited to take part in the project was Malcolm Lowry, author of Under the Volcano.

Lowry lived in the Lower Mainland for 14 years. He spent most of that time in North Vancouver, but also in the West End, where a plaque now stands at the Haywood Bandstand commemorating his poem Lament in the Pacific Northwest.

According to Twigg, Lowry disliked Vancouver and its antiquated liquor laws. He wrote a poem about the empty bandstand "as an analogy to the joylessness of puritanical Vancouver."

To read more about Lowry and other authors who once lived in Vancouver, check out the Vancouver Public Library's Literary Landmarks interactive map.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Mapping Vancouver's literary history

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