“Poems fall like leaves until/wheelbarrows sag from collected rain.” -Debbie Okun Hill*
Yesterday’s e-mail from the League of Canadian Poets arrived unexpectedly like the popped cork from a champagne bottle.
“We are so excited that Heartwood is finally out in the world!” wrote Madison Stoner, Communications Coordinator for the League.
I could feel the effervescence tingling in her words and the anticipated release of congratulatory balloons on a Facebook page. Bravo to editor Lesley Strutt and all the Canadian contributors and compilers and designers and more who worked behind the scenes on this important project. The League’s fundraising anthology Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees reinforced my own interest in nature and the importance of trees for our well-being. How wonderful to know that others felt the same way. I was pleased to tag along!
According to the Amazon posting, this collection published by the League “features poets from every province and territory celebrating the immeasurable value trees have for the environment and the soul.”
“Trees matter,” wrote Strutt on the back cover of the 288-page anthology, “and we have written about them with the windows of our hearts open, breathing in the good air that the forests provide.”
As one of over 100 #HeartwoodPoets involved in the project, I’m thrilled that the first section of my long poem “This trail of phragmites shrouds” was included in the book.
Since May 2011 (and also thanks to an Ontario Arts Council Writers’ Reserve Grant), I have written over 100 poems about southwestern Ontario’s ash trees destroyed by the invasive emerald ash borer. This particular poem was inspired by Bright’s Grove artist Mary Abma’s Signposts & Traces Ash Tree Memorial Trail installed in the spring of 2017 at Canatara Park in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The poem described segments of the memorial service that she organized. More information about that service appears here. More information about Mary Abma’s project appears here. More information about the status of my ash-tree book…well, that will be shared at another time.
Another local poet involved in the League’s Heartwood anthology is Lynn Tait. Her poem “If Our Mother Was a Tree” is featured. Tait is also a photographer and tree lover. According to the anthology notes, she “has published poetry in CV2, Freefall, Windsor Review, Literary Review of Canada, and in over 90 anthologies.
Sarnia audiences will also be familiar with these out-of-town contributors who have read in the area over the years: Allan Briesmaster, Keith Inman, John B. Lee, Michael Mirolla, Chad Norman, Vanessa Shields, and Glen Sorestad. Anthology contributor Heather Cadsby will be reading in Sarnia at the end of August. Also a special shout-out to Penn Kemp, London’s first poet laureate who has worked with area children as part of the League’s Poet In the Schools program.
However, there’s more than just a local connection to this national project.
In addition to the 154 tree-themed poems written by League members from across Canada, the book includes photographs by Chuck Willemsen and a foreword by Diana Beresford-Kroeger, author of The Sweetness of a Simple Life and The Global Forest: 40 ways trees can save us.
“We must turn to the poets to expand dreams,” wrote Beresford-Kroeger for the book’s back cover. “This is because trees are the parents to the child deep within us.” See her full quote below:
Contributors are being encouraged to organize and attend launch readings across the country. As the League website states: “Interested hosts can organize a joint screening and launch for Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees and the 1-hour documentary Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees.” What an excellent idea!
Last night, outside my window, Amur maples and Austrian pine waltzed in the rain. Liquid confetti drummed over the tree crowns. Such a joyous outburst!
This morning at my desk, the celebration continues.
“What can the trees teach us?”
I open the patio door, step outside, and breathe in the moist air.
Stay tuned to the League’s social media to find out about a Heartwood launch near you. Check out the twitter hashtags: #HeartwoodPoet #LCPHeartwood
Once additional information becomes available, I will also post Ontario launch details in the event section of this blog.
Read more about the book here.
The League also has an article about the book here.
According to its website, the League of Canadian Poets is “the professional organization for established and emerging Canadian poets. Founded in 1966 to nurture the advancement of poetry in Canada, and the promotion of the interests of poets, it now comprises over 700 members.”
I tip my water-filled wineglass to the trees, “Cheers!!” Looking forward to reading this anthology beneath a healthy green canopy.
Follow this blog for future Canadian poet profiles, literary news, and reviews.
Coming soon: an interview with Canadian poet/editor Harold Rhenisch, Electronic Writer in Residence for the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association.