In her first book of poetry, Ursula Vaira captures the rugged and challenging beauty of the West Coast landscape in three poignant stories.
The first, told through a set of linked poems, describes her thirty-day, thousand-mile paddle from Hazelton to Victoria with skipper Roy Henry Vickers. "Journeys 97" was an RCMP-First Nations venture to raise addictions awareness and to offer on opportunity for the government to apologize for their role in the legacy of the residential schools. Vaira bears witness.
'A heck of a wind/ bounces me into the mountains'...So begins the second poem, "Frog River," the story of a woman's stay in an isolated hunter's cabin 129 km north of Muncho Lake in the northern Rockies. She is not sure whether she has left her lover or just left him behind, whether love is more dangerous than anything she might encounter in the wilderness.
"Last One to Get There," the third and final journey in Vaira's new collection, is a poem of place, of landscape and of West Coast imagery from a twenty-two-day kayaking journey that rounded Cape Scott and Cape Cook on Vancouver Island.
Lorna Crozier has called these poems "talismans of grace, beauty and healing."
Ursula Vaira's poems have been published in literary journals and in anthologies. The long poem, "Frog River," was published as a chapbook and is forthcoming in the Portage Anthology. The title poem of her collection, "And See What Happens," was a finalist in the CBC Literary Competition and was published in slightly different form as a chapbook called 'A Thousand Miles'. "Last One to Get There" was published in a chapbook titled 'Little Espinoza'.
Ursula worked at Oolichan Books for ten years then founded her own publishing house, Leaf Press, in 2001.