Transit Spaces and the Mobility Poor in Marilyn Dumont's Vancouver Poems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marilyn Dumont's ten-poem sequence, “City View,” presents a poetic geography of Vancouver that emphasizes the city's spatial connectedness. Set primarily in transit spaces like streets and buses, these poems (all titled after specific streets in Vancouver) explore a social imaginary modeled after a spatial one, a vision of connectivity that takes its cue from the urban environment. Yet, despite this desire to traverse social and spatial boundaries, Dumont's “City View” sequence ultimately depicts a failed connection between the speaker and the other urban dwellers in these poems. Proximity leads not to empathy but to affective distance, and the city figures as a place of encounter but also subjection in these poems. This chapter explores mobility as a factor in this affective distance by looking at how driving, walking, and mass transit dependency—each representing varying entitlements to mobility—condition different affective relationships and capacities of seeing. While these poems endeavor to present a unified spatial and lyrical representation of Vancouver, they also reveal the ways in which mobility mediates social relations in an urban landscape built around automotive culture. Together, Dumont's poems invite deeper consideration of the relationship between mobility and subjectivity, mobility and affect, and mobility and forms of seeing—considerations that come to bear on recent discussions of Indigenous presence in urban space and processes of recognition.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-130
Number of pages29
JournalCultural Critique
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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