How do we learn to be where we live? How can a 21st-century mind, saturated with the culture and metaphors of contemporary life, connect to the natural world that surrounds us? In Nancy Holmes’ new book of poetry, these questions are asked of her home, the Okanagan valley in the southern interior of British Columbia. In these poems, as Holmes comes to terms with personal grief, she tries to find consolation in the place she shares with other beings. Holmes’ poetry looks for relationships with the prickly pear cacti, bluebunch wheatgrass, the black bears, the coyotes, and the northern flickers. She seeks to embed herself in the geography and consciousness of this arid Western landscape, one of the most endangered ecosystems in Canada, a landscape of great beauty and spiritual power with its volcanic glaciated mountains and fragile long lakes. The result is poetry that is both elegiac and humorous, with a vision often skewed by the lenses of mass media, anxiety, and the obsessions of the contemporary world. Sometimes disturbed and questioning, sometimes delighted and awed, sometimes troubled by the history of settlers and indigenous peoples, the poems explore our complicity in the destruction of, and our love for, the wild animals, plants, and places around us.
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.