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Poetry Canadian

The Average Height of Flight

by (author) Beth Kope

Caitlin Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2015
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2015
    List Price

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The poems in Average Height of Flight are founded in the landscape of coastal BC, built on the losses within the narrator's life in counterpoint to her walks in the natural world. In forests with her dog, along watersheds and hill climbs, Beth Kope goes off trail to find inspiration and time for meditation. She observes as the landscapes change with storms blowing through, absorbs the names of plants, finds sustained comfort whatever the season: crisp, clear days, rain is fine, or the snow that reveals the other creatures that share her routes. Kope invites the reader to join her on these walks and meditations on grief. The metre of feet and heartbeat creates a cadence of solace, but lovingly follows the nose of a dog.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Beth Kope grew up in Alberta and is honoured to live, work, and play in Victoria, BC, Coast Salish territory of Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ nations. Kope has taught in Alberta, Adelaide, Australia and Quebec and currently works at Camosun College. She has published two poetry collections and has been included in the anthologies Refugium: Poems for the Pacific (Caitlin Press, 2017) and Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds (Caitlin Press, 2020). Kope’s first book, Falling Season (Leaf Press, 2010) detailed her mother’s decline due to an aggressive form of dementia called Lewy Body, which BC BookWorld described as “poems of honest dismay and almost unbearable sadness.” Her second book, Average Height of Flight (Caitlin Press, 2015), was a meditation on West Coast landscape and grief and a poem from the collection was featured in Poetry in Transit. Kope has read at Word on the Street Vancouver, been a featured reader at Planet Earth Poetry, The Writer’s Studio Reading Series, and The Victoria Festival of Authors. She is the co-host, along with Yvonne Blomer, of the annual Forest Poet-Tree event which is part of the Victoria Festival of Authors.

Editorial Reviews

“Kope offers poems set in BC’s coastal areas that contrast her personal losses with the comfort she finds through nature walks with her canine companion. Her off-trail wanderings offer the opportunity for inspiration and observation, no matter the season.”

BC BookWorld

“There is nothing average about Average Height of Flight. In her second collection of poetry, Beth Kope uses linguistic precision and carefully considered form to disarm, compel, convince the reader of the urgency of life, while still offering deep meditative space. Forests, trails, creeks, dogs, distance, and of course, birds: in this book Kope spreads her wings and the poetry soars.”

–Arleen Paré, author of Lake of Two Mountains (Brick Books, 2014) and winner of the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry

“The ‘air has changed’ in Beth Kope’s shadowed woods, where ‘riddles run…on spectral feet’ and ‘small things…pause.’ This creative tension encourages the reader to see ‘the heart-shaped leaf’ as well as note the foreboding ‘change in weather,’ and to follow Chris Maynard’s shape-shifting cover image–where birds (and their shadows) fly free of their own discarded feathers–into the pages of Kope’s poetry, alive with ‘joy-yips.’ Readers will delight in following her dogs through salal and looking skyward for crows as they negotiate ‘the path…forking, which one to the heart.'”

–Cornelia Hoogland, author of Woods Wolf Girl

“In these poems, the natural world opens up like a book of knowledge that offers its dust, leaves, moss, clouds, stones, water and stars as evidence of the inner life. Here, the music of an explorer’s mind is alive, enthralled with wandering and wilderness, the storm and the silence and the trails that lead from love to loss and back again.”

–Carla Funk, author of Apologetic

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