“Windburned, eyes closed, this: beneath the keening of bergs, a deeper thresh of glaciers calving, creaking with sun. Sound of earth, her bones, wide russet bowl of hips splaying open. From these sere flanks, her desiccating body, what a sea change is born.” From the endangered Canadian boreal forest to the environmentally threatened Svalbard archipelago off the coast of Norway, Jenna Butler takes us on a sea voyage that connects continents and traces the impacts of climate change on northern lands. With a conservationist, female gaze, she questions explorer narratives and the mythic draw of the polar North. As a woman who cannot have children, she writes out the internal friction of travelling in Svalbard during the fertile height of the Arctic summer. Blending travelogue and poetic meditation on place, Jenna Butler draws readers to the beauty and power of threatened landscapes, asking why some stories in recorded history are privileged while others speak only from beneath the surface.
# 1 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, January 13, 2019
“…an alternate view of the grandeur of Arctic nature, the paradox of Russian mining settlements in an area under Norwegian sovereignty, the critically endangered nature of the islands, how people respond to the extreme environment and living conditions in the Arctic, and a deep personal reflection on traveling to this part of the globe…” Ingo Heidbrink, The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord, Vol. XXVIII, No. 4 [Full review at https://www.cnrs-scrn.org/northern_mariner/vol28/tnm_28_br_385-438.pdf]
# 3 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, December 01, 2018
"...Sea Voyage to Svalbard is a journey motivated by curiosity about the north, and a longing for sights to be seen before they disappear forever. Her descriptions of settlements scattered between mainland Norway and the Arctic Circle are evocative: her prose is poetic, and her poems (interspersed in the text) are visual and concrete."
"[Jenna Butler is an] acute observer and a precise and cogent writer... [Hers] is a journey motivated by curiosity about the north, and a longing for sights to be seen before they disappear forever. Her descriptions of settlements scattered between mainland Norway and the Arctic Circle are evocative: her prose is poetic, and her poems (interspersed in the text) are visual and concrete." [Full review at http://canlit.ca/article/voyages-of-desire/]
# 7 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, August 16, 2018
"Magnetic North is a beautiful little book, full of moments of intense vision, but it’s also another ecological warning, couched in a poet’s deep understanding of what she has seen & recorded in our now changing north. Wholly engaging both emotionally & intellectually, it’s one of those books that truly adds to our understanding of the world we live in & continue to wound." [Full review at https://eclecticruckus.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/jenna-butlers-visionary-voyage-into-the-arctic/]
"The remote island of Spitsbergen, on Norway’s northern Svalbard archipelago, provides the setting for Butler’s evocative ruminations on the harsh beauty at the edge of the world.... Butler’s book is not a standard travel narrative; rather, she wields poetic prose to describe a place that most humans will never visit. The result is highly recommended for lovers of poetry and nature writing."
"Magnetic North is a delight, perfect for amateur botanists, naturalists or simply admirers of Butler's astonishing gifts as a poet."