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Poetry Nature

Dead Salmon Dialectics

by (author) Derrick Stacey Denholm

Caitlin Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2014
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2014
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Drawing on scientific studies of salmon recycling in perhumid rainforests, Dead Salmon Dialectics follows the dark and often humorous trial of a young biologist at work in the wildest estuaries of the rainiest place on earth. Written for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic Lyell Island logging blockades on Xaaydaa Gwaay, these poems form a musicolous bricolage out of a mesothermal wordstream, sampling ideas of unequal value toward a cohesion of ecological and ecoliterary integrity. Filled with thousands of rotting carcasses, rain, swirls of phosphorescent algae, rain, night-fishing bears, local sledneck debutantes, the marvel of raven song, rain and near misses by giant falling trees, Dead Salmon Dialectics is an interdisciplinary experiment for the senses and the synapses. While they challenge passive readers to activate and participate, the poems set the visceral beauty of coastal rainforest music to the unavoidable slippery realities of hard science, technology and philosophy.

About the author

Born on the BC coast, Derrick Stacey Denholm has spent most of the last twenty years living and working in northern and coastal forests. Having come out of the trees just long enough to complete a bachelor and a masters in English, his literary work concerns respect for the wild, social and environmental justice, and the problems of ongoing industrialization within Indigenous lands. Denhlm won the 2011 Barry McKinnon Chapbook Award for Dead Salmon Dialectics, which was published in full form by Caitlin Press in 2014. Denholm also has poetry, prose, and visual art published in Canadian Literature, the Capilano Review, CV2, Dreamland, Drunken Boat, filling Station, The Goose, and ::stonestone::.

Derrick Stacey Denholm's profile page


  • Winner, Barry McKinnon Chapbook Award

Editorial Reviews

“In the streaming pages of his Dead Salmon Dialectics, Derrick Denholm’s dramatic variations open into an entirely new kind of correlative clause, to a ‘core sampling’ of the living, breathing, north coast tangle of fish and names, mixed equally with the ongoing currents of rainforest and poetic fluvials he so adroitly weaves together. In page after page, Denholm writes of the ‘wings, limbs and mouths’ that pulse in these amazing ‘disintegrating remains,’ not just of salmon, but the all, bringing together the movement of consumption, the ‘long here’ of his ‘adult rain salmon rewrite,’ in this, his ‘running streamcourse’ of what goes on, and on.”

–Ken Belford

"His name is Derrick and naming is what Dead Salmon Dialectics does. Denholm takes a serious run at locating a 'lan(d)guage' that negotiates the particulars of place by naming. Thus these 'phloems' reach for a language that might help materialize a place-derived commons; minute, truthful, and particular. This poetry is a salvage operation that knifes in an ecologic lexicon, a dendrite map of a poetrophic system of attention. Hard work, but incisive and worth it–a dialect of place we need to remember."

–Fred Wah

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