About the Author

Nancy Holmes


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.


Books by this Author
Adultery Poems, The

Adultery Poems, The

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Flicker Tree, The

Flicker Tree, The

Okanagan Poems
also available: eBook
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Writing the Terrain

Writing the Terrain

Travelling Through Alberta with the Poets
contributions by Karen Solie; Rosalee van Stelten; Joseph Pivato; Charles Noble; Stacie Wolfer; William Latta; Christopher Wiseman; Cyril Dabydeen; Yvonne Trainer; Robert Boates; Monty Reid; John O. Thompson; Alexa DeWiel; Tom Howe; Leslie Greentree; John O. Barton; Tammy Armstrong; Doug Beardsley; Laurence Hutchman; Murdoch Burnett; Stephen Scobie; Aleksei Kazuk; Colleen Thibadeau; Colin Morton; Sid Marty; Greg Simison; Nancy Holmes; Vivian Hansen; Walter Hildebrandt; P K Page; Richard Woollatt; Gail Ghai; Kim Maltman; Joan Shillington; Ian Adam; Wilfred Watson; Michael Cullen; Robert Hilles; Erin Michie; Deborah Miller; Jan Boydol; Robert Kroetsch; Miriam Waddington; Jon Whyte; Leonard Cohen; r. rickey; Tim Bowling; Ivan Sundal; Phyllis Webb; Weyman Chan; Bruce Hunter; Ryan Fitzpatrick; D.C. Reid; Cecelia Frey; Sally Ito; Bonnie Bishop; Robert Stamp; Deborah Godin; Margaret Avison; Joan Crate; Rajinderpal Pal; Miriam Mandel; James M. Moir; Anne Swannell; Tim Lilburn; Pauline Johnson; Lorne Daniel; James Wreford Watson; Erin Moure; Ruth Roach Pierson; Stephan Stephansson; Aritha van Herk; Fiona Lam; Jan Zwicky; James M. Thurgood; Roberta Rees; E.D. Blodgett; Gordon Burles; Eva Tihanyi; Carol Ann Sokoloff; Jim Green; Dennis Cooley; Christine Wiesenthal; Vanna Tessier; Douglas Barbour; Richard Hornsey; Ken Rivard; George Bowering; Aislinn Hunter; Anne Campbell; Tom Wayman; Peter Stevens; Anna Mioduchowska; David McFadden; Gary Geddes; Rita Wong; Barry McKinnon; Tom Henihan; Michael Henry; Alice Major; Allan Serafino; Gerald Hill; Jason Dewinetz & Sheri-D Wilson
also available: Paperback
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Open Wide a Wilderness

The Hornéd Larks in Winter by Ethelwyn Wetherald

Where the tufted red-root

Rises from the snow,

See the flock of hornéd larks

Crouching low,

Beating, shaking all the seeds

From the dry pods of the weeds,

Calling from the knolls and furrows

As they go.

Lovers of the plowed field

And the open sun,

Pacing thoughtfully the ruts

One by one.

On each delicate small head

Black and white are closely wed,

And the horn-like tufts are lowered

When they run.

Serious little fellows!

Who would e’er surmise

That such grave field labourers

Could arise,

Shaking from their yellow throats

Ravishing cloud-surrounded notes,

Flinging up the joy of springtime

To the skies.


Black Bear by Douglas LePan

Sweet-mouth, honey-paws, hairy one!

you don't prowl much in the history books

but you sure figure when choker-men, donkey-men, shanty-men


or pulp-savages, or top-riggers.

“I've seen me go up a tree so fast with one of them after me

I only had time to loosen my belt and give him my pants

or I'd been done for. ”

”When I came into the cook-house I knew there was something there.

And was there ever! A great big black bear.

He chased me round and round the table till I hauled off and hit the

dinner gong.

That shook him! He was out the door like a bat out of hell. ”

If only you could hear us talk, you would know how we love you

sweet-mouth, honey-paws, hairy one!

Cousin, comrade, and jester,

so like us as you pad along jocularly

looking for garbage and honey, and not leaving much trace,

dozing off (for a whole season--as who wouldn't want to?)

then when you waken, perhaps a little too devil-may-care,

not knowing your own strength, ready to carry a joke a little too far,

creature of moods, old man, young man, child,

sitting in a meadow eating blueberries by the bushful.

Don't you know how much we love you?

Old man, curled up in your lair? So come out and be killed, old man!

Sweet-mouth, honey-paws, hairy one!


Alchemist by Elizabeth Brewster

Man, the evil magician,

brews, in the perishable cauldron

of rock and sand,

a violent fiery potion

melted lightning.

Foolish enchanter,

do not break

this great brown dish

with green edges

which has been in the family

all these years.

Where will you find another

to hold your children's supper?


Axe Murderer by Sharon Thesen

Look out!


Here he comes

dragging his axe.

He drags it because

he is so evil & stupid

he cannot hold it up

Unlike the whistling woodcutter

who lives in the little log house.

Chop chop, chop chop

goes the axe.

Eek! and O my God!

say the trees and the women.

All this goes on

in the forest.

So you can relax.


Load by Don McKay

We think this

the fate of mammals--to bear, be born,

be burden, to carry our own bones

as far as we can and know the force that earths us

intimately. Sometimes, while I was reading,

Sam would bestow one large paw on my foot,

as if to support my body

while its mind was absent--mute

commiseration, load to load, a message

like the velvet heaviness which comes

to carry you deliciously


One morning

on the beach at Point Pelee, I met

a White-throated Sparrow so exhausted from the flight

across Lake Erie it just huddled in itself

as I crouched a few yards off.

I was thinking of the muscles in that grey-white breast,

pectoralis major powering each downstroke,

pectoralis minor with its rope-and-pulley tendon

reaching through the shoulder to the

top side of the humerus to haul it up again;

of the sternum with the extra keel it has evolved to

anchor all that effort, of the dark wind

and the white curl on the waves below, the slow dawn

and the thickening shoreline.

I wanted

very much to stroke it, and recalling

several terrors of my brief

and trivial existence, didn't.


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