Arborophobia, the latest collection by award-winning poet Nancy Holmes, is a poetic spiritual reckoning. Its elegies, litanies, and indictments concern wonder, guilt, and grief about the journey of human life and the state of the natural world. When a child attempts suicide and western North America burns and the creep of mortality closes in, is spiritual and emotional solace possible or even desirable? Answers abound in measured, texturally intimate, and often surprising ways. The title sequence, named for a word that means “hatred of trees,” sassily blurs the boundaries between human beings and Ponderosa pines, reminding us how fragile our conceptual frameworks really are. Another sequence responds to Julian of Norwich’s writing and call “to practise the art / of letting things happen.” Saints’ lives interlace with our quotidian experience, smudging connections between the spiritual and the earthly. Taking a hard look at what we have done to this beautiful planet and to those we love, Arborophobia is a companion for all who grapple with the problem of hope in times of crisis.
About the author
Nancy Holmes has published four collections of poetry, most recently Mandorla (2005). She has lived in Alberta, Ontario, and, most recently, British Columbia, where she teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna.
Don McKay has published eight books of poetry. Among his many awards are the Governor General’s Award in 1991 (for Night Fields) and in 2000 (for Another Gravity). He was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize for Camber and was the Canadian winner in 2007 for Strike/Slip. Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, Don McKay has been active as an editor, creative writing teacher, and university instructor, as well as a poet. He lives in Newfoundland.