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Literary Criticism Canadian

The Tree Whisperer

Writing Poetry by Living in the World

by (author) Harold Rhenisch

Gaspereau Press Ltd.
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
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Harold Rhenisch writes about what a lifelong experience in orchards has taught him about being human in a postcolonial society–both the literal fruit tree orchards of the Okanagan Valley and the figurative orchards of literary culture and education. Whether he’s comparing industrialized fruit-growing practices like ‘Mold and Hold’ to the educational complex, or considering how decolonization might meaningfully progress in Syilx Territory, Rhenisch is always cultivating our sense of our presence in a real world. “I used to prune trees,” writes Harold Rhenisch. “Now I prune shadows out of light.”


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 #38: 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. He is the author of 32 books of poetry, fiction, biography and essays and choreographed Richard Rathwell’s Human Nation for the paper stage. Along with the Norwegian Olav Hauge, he is one of the two poets in the world who learned to write and edit poems by pruning fruit trees, an experience documented in his The Tree Whisperer (Gaspereau, 2021). A direct heir of Bertolt Brecht’s theater, through the dissident playwright and novelist Stefan Schütz, whose radio play Peyote he translated and published, he has invented a theatrical set of cross-genre literary interventions. He has secretly edited and mentored over a hundred writers in the hinterlands of Canada unserved by its university and publishing system and is currently writing a transcultural natural history curriculum and a history of British Columbia centred in the Indian Wars of the American West.

Harold Rhenisch's profile page

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