Launchpad: Lost Lagoon, Lost in Thought, by Betsy Warland

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Lost Lagoon/ Lost in Thought, by Betsy Warland, which Shaena Lambert calls, "an extraordinary love spell cast by a master magician."

The Elevator Pitch for Lost Lagoon/lost in thought.

An up-close prose poetry account of The Human’s relationship between Stanley Park’s lagoon wildlife and Vancouver’s fast-paced urban living.

Describe your ideal reader.

Sinks into the soundscape of Tord Gustavsen’s The Other Side; savours reading Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth before going into dreamland sleep; begins the day with Treasure Green’s Emerald (Silver) tea.

What authors/books is your work in conversation with?

Henry David Thoreau, Pauline Johnson, Peter Wolleben, Charlotte Gill, John Terpstra, Alice Oswald, Sarah de Leeuw, J.R. Carpenter, Helen Macdonald, Harry Thurston, Sarah Bakewell, Cherie Dimaline, Tanya Tagaq, David Abram.

Something you learned about your book/yourself/your subject during process of creating and publishing your book?

The difference between caution and doubt. The natural world is ever cautious about specific safety concerns, whereas the human world is plagued by endless doubt about everything and far more fearful.

Why did you identify the narrator as The Human in the very first prose poem of Lost Lagoon/lost in thought?

It was instinctive. It also cued the reader to how my normal sense of subjectivity changed once I began consistently spending time with the lagoon and the wildlife inhabitants. The Human’s habitual thoughts, worries and instincts waned. I wasn’t she, he, Betsy, not even an “I”— to the lagoon world I was simply & irrevocably The Human: accepting that was liberating. I could just focus on being attentive; gently being with the lagoon and the lagoon wildlife sensed this.

Acknowledge someone whose support has been integral?

Cheryl Sourkes, a Toronto photographer who was a forerunner of harvesting frame grabs from surveillance camera to online home webcams to generate images from digital coding. She has been creating exquisite and challenging art that reveals so much about the increasingly corporatized western world.

What Canadian book are you reading right now?

Sonnet’s Shakespeare, by Sonnet L’Abbe

 

 

About Lost Lagoon/ Lost in Thought:

After moving to Vancouver's West End in 2014, The Human is drawn to a small body of water called Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park. Daytime visits, with a surprising array of wildlife, are quietly revelatory; but so is suddenly waking in the night when owl hoots, or geese startle in alarm at otter on the prowl. The Human savours this up-close relationship between wildlife and fast-paced urban living, questioning the interface between the urban and natural world. Upon learning the lagoon was named by nineteenth century Canadian author E. Pauline Johnson, of Mohawk and English origin, Johnson then becomes a presence in the narrative. Pauline Johnson wrote evocatively about it: "Among the wild rice in the still lagoon/In monotone the lizard shrills his tune."

During five years of intimate counterpoint between urban living and wildlife, The Human's notions are challenged and altered. Questions of how significant the specificity of place is to story, how our relationship to nature is altered by urban living, and how we might return to the natural world. Reminiscent of Henry Thoreau's Walden Pond, perceptions about nurturing, fear, inventiveness, delight, death, protection, humour, even tenderness change as the lagoon has exposed what being human in the twenty-first century actually means.

April 20, 2020
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