When Harold and Diane Rhenisch went to Iceland in 2010, Harold had just returned from a pilgrimage on the via regia, the 1000-year-old “King’s Way” through East Germany. Diane sat on her bed the next night on Iceland’s south coast and announced that she was staying there forever. Harold agreed that he wanted to stay, too. This book came from that trip — a love story set within the bond between Icelanders, their sheep and their horses. Harold soon learns to give up the books he loves for Icelandic nature and people. And trolls. The pair drive down all kinds of impossible roads to meet the local trolls. Trolls, Harold notes, keep humans because humans keep sheep, and trolls like sheep. So does Harold. At first, he is troubled by this. Then he learns to laugh. The Art of Haying follows our couple on three trips of renewed love to Iceland, in summer, winter and spring. As Harold trudges after Diane to an enchanted cave on Iceland’s eastern shore, he sees her as a different woman than he has ever known before. He has the smarts not to let her out of his sight. He is soon happily unravelling the threads of his language, English, until he begins to describe it as Icelandic with a bad accent and a lot of stolen words. As the two enchanted travellers dive into knitting shops and walk out with herds of sheep in the rain, Harold begins to describe how the knitting traditions of iceland translate sheep wandering across the Icelandic Highlands in skeins of rain into the special kind of love charm called the Icelandic Sweater, knitted by Icelandic women to keep their men and children warm in the cold. Harold chats with ravens in the north, and is eyed by others as they skip along a canyon rim in a snow-bound fjord in the East, waiting for him to stumble and become lunch. After a month as writer in residence at Skriduklaustur, writing about the modern sagas of the Icelandic writer Gunnar Gunnarsson, he adopts Gunnarsson’s blend of poetry, fiction and nonfiction as his own. The result is a love story for Iceland and story telling, both ancient and for a new age of the world in which books are less vital than a visual and spiritual feast of experience, nature, art and creativity: in other words, Iceland. Then the horses come, and Harold goes out to them. He does not come back.
About the author
Harold Rhenisch is an award-winning poet, critic, and cultural commentator. His awards include the Confederation Poetry Prize in 1991 and the BC &: Yukon Community Newspapers Association Award for Best Arts and Culture Writing in 1996. He is a seven-time runner-up for the CBC/Tilden/Saturday Night Literary Contest. In 2005, he won the ARC Magazine Critics Desk Award for best long poetry review and the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize for "Abandon." He won this prize again in 2007 for "The Bone Yard." His non-fiction book Tom Thomson's Shack was short-listed for two BC Book Prizes in 2000. For its sequel, The Wolves at Evelyn, he won the 2007 George Ryga Award for Social Responsibility in Literature. Harold Rhenisch has recently moved from 150 Mile House in BC’s Cariboo region to Campbell River on Vancouver Island.
Other titles by Harold Rhenisch
The Voyageur Modern Canadian Literature 5-Book Bundle
The Silence on the Shore / Combat Journal for Place d'Armes / The Donnellys / In This Poem I Am / Canadian Exploration Literature
A Room in the City
Photographs of Gabor Gasztonyi
An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry
In This Poem I Am
Selected Poetry of Robin Skelton
Return to Open Water
Poems New and Selected
The Wolves at Evelyn
Journeys through a Dark Century
A Palette of Birds