Poetry. First there was BACKUP TO BABYLON in 2006. Now comes SUBWAY UNDER BYZANTIUM, the second in Maxine Gadd's double act of works about the Gulf Islands and the Downtown Eastside: twin axes of the fall. Covering the period from 1986 to 1993, Gadd's allusive writing in this volume is by turns intensely personal, slyly funny, and socially incisive. Her poetry draws on the people she knows and the sights she sees on the street. At the same time it invokes myth, formative texts, and magical incantations. As Maxine Gadd herself describes the book, "Five sets of apocalyptic poems from the end of the twentieth century, demonic particulars in the angel of air: Loon, Lac Lake, Boatload to Atlantis, Styx and Subway Under Byzantium." SUBWAY UNDER BYZANTIUM is a welcome second opportunity for readers to immerse themselves in Gadd's intensely human poetry.
Maxine Gadd was born as "a red diaper baby" in England on November 12, 1940, just outside of London. "Every time there was an air raid," she says, "and the bombs fell, my mother and little brother, Neri and I, would have to get from the sixth floor in the attic, to the basement. My father was away at war at Belgium, eating better than us. My mother used to faint in the street from hunger and anxiety." She immigrated with her family to Canada in 1946 and lived in a downtown hotel. She attended Kitsilano High School and acquired at B.A. from UBC. She later moved to Galiano Island, eventually returning to Vancouver. Fire in the Cove, published in 2001, is a collection of 24 poems written on Galiano Island from 1977 to 1984. Her three privately published works entitled "Greenstone," "Backup to Babylon," and "Lac Lake" were gathered for Backup to Babylon (2006). The title work describes the politics of Vancouver in the 1980s during the Solidarity movement and the Francis Street Squat. As a follow-up, Gadd published Subway Under Byzantine (New Star, 2008), with more on the Gulf Islands and Downtown Eastside.Author City: Vancouver, BC CAN