See News and Events Page for a description of "Crossing" a chapbook, November 2106 and news on my novel, "Dazzle Patterns."
THE LAST ISLAND - A naturalist's sojourn on Triangle Island
My first book The Last Island – a Naturalist’s Sojourn on Triangle Island, is an attempt to recall and share the summer I spent with Anne Vallée, a serious young biologist whose dedication to her field made her a formidable and inspiring mentor. The book, written in diary form, recounts my initial time on the island and my second visit 16 years later, following Vallée’s death. I returned to continue my research of Vallée’s work and was flooded by memories of our time together.
Published by Harbour Publishing in 2002, it won the Edna Staebler Award for a first or second book of Canadian non-fiction: “The judges felt The Last Island was a beautiful and emotional blending of native legends, evolutionary theory, scientific knowledge and an appreciation for the delicate balance of life,” says Staebler award administrator Kathryn Wardropper. “The beautiful language combined with the watercolour paintings transports the reader to the island.”
Here is the first page:
August 15, 1996
I am falling upward--the ground dropping away so fast my stomach clenches. Suddenly it is as if no time has passed--I am twenty-three, not thirty-nine. Once again I have been seduced by a romantic notion of adventure, and once again the moment of departure has filled me with disbelief--for some reason I have planned to fly off the edge of the world.
As we leave the long sand beach of Cape Scott behind, I imagine how we must look to the hikers who have set a yellow tent there--a helicopter growing smaller and smaller until it is a tiny speck, an insect that has lost its bearing and is flying inexplicably out to sea.
I lean on the cold glass of hte window, to see the Scott Islands scattered below us, the first low and heavily wooded, like fragments of Vancouver Island unmooored and set adrift, the farthest rugged and treelss. Finally we seem to leave land behind.
"Flying out here, over nother but water, makes me nervous," I confess to the pilot.
"Me too, he says, adjusting his headset and giving me a quick sideways glance and an incomprehensible smile.
My poems have appeared in many literary journals, including Event, Room of One’s Own, Arc, and the League of Canadian Poets Anthologies. I have won the Backwater Review and subTerrain magazines’ poetry prizes and placed second in Prairie Fire’s Bliss Carmen competition. My poems have also appeared in two chapbooks “Poems from the Basement” and “The Invention of Birds”, published by Leaf Press.
Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario's blog to hear me read "Two Figures" at one of the gallery's ekphrastic poetry event.
My first book of poetry, Circadia came out with Pedlar Press in 2005. One of my paintings appears on the cover of this book; my drawings of small ordinary objects are scattered through the text.
Presently I am in the middle of an MFA through the Creative Writing Department of the University of British Columbia.
The Last Island can be purchased for $32 + shipping.
Circadia can be purchased for $20 + shipping.
Please contact me to order.
From a suite of 5 poems was published in subTerrain's Magazine's May 2012 issue:
Along Howe Sound—
wind has stripped the maples.
I am six, in that town in northern Ontario,
collecting fallen leaves
to press between wax paper—
Miss Tasker holding the iron down
until the scorched smell
fills the first grade classroom
where leaves, taped to the windows,
will fade by Remembrance Day.
You are eleven,
lost in elaborate fantasies,
pushing your bike up
the steep hill below your house
in that seaside town.
to two lanes, flexes
for the long climb.
I lose the radio signal—
the panel on the pros and cons
of our military mission
as if the speakers have forgotten their arguments,
wandered away from the mikes.
Cottonwood gives every old logging road away—
cadmium yellow slashes through blue slopes
even after all these years,
after the grapple yarders, the loaders
and haulers are gone
and the fallers have grown old
and sunk into recliners.
Rain, exhaled by ocean,
becomes rivulet, stream,
river running to salmon
pouring their red bodies into current
dying to end it all, dying
to begin it all again.
Coastal western hemlock gives way
to subalpine spruce, frozen
in place, stiffly motioning—move on—
winter is just around the next hairpin.
Receding glaciers gleam on granite,
old medals from the Pleistocene cold wars.
I am ten, a bookish girl with skinny legs
and thin hair prone to tangles,
crossing this divide for the first time,
from the opposite direction,
just beginning to understand
how big things were:
prairie, mountain, river,
loss: the wheels of the train chanting
closing the miles between us.
Given enough summers
ice a mile thick from valley to peak will melt.
Given enough revolutions
wheels can take us anywhere,
but memories—the smell of my mother’s grey wool coat,
Evening in Paris and stale cigarettes,
the first time I saw you
at that dinner party years later in Kitsilano,
rumpled white shirt and shock of red hair—
clatter like tin cans tied to the bumper
of my getaway car.
Pines, riddled with bark beetle
drop red needles like Christmas trees in January.
Clouds collapse and forest peels back to sage,
land exposed, belly and thighs
of hills, dipping
into brush filled draws.
I am watching you
in memory’s rearview mirror
as you sleep, your hair grey now.
Far across the valley,
the train I remember
moves slowly on track cut through alluvial dust.
Something pale shines in a window—
a girl’s face.
She’s thinking that it is simple:
pack some bags, lock a door,
step into a moving thing,
cross from one life