“We need trees. They give us oxygen, wood, medicine, food, shelter, shade, paper –the list goes on and on.” –Dearborn Public Library; Dearborn Michigan*
When was the last time you hugged a tree? Admit it, during these pandemic on-again-off-again lockdowns, reading a good book or taking a quiet stroll through a tree-lined park often eased the emptiness from those missed social gatherings with family and friends.
Forests have healing powers and that is one reason trees need to remain in good health for future generations. On Sunday, March 21, 2021, concerned organizations and individuals with the help of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations celebrated International Day of Forests ( #IntlForestDay ). This year’s theme was “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being.” For additional details, here is the link.
I’m not much of an activist, but as a writer and a reader, I’ve been impressed by some of the tree-themed literary projects that have been organized and promoted over the years. The following books were not affiliated with International Day of Forests, but I wanted to draw attention to them.
TREE BOOKS – HOT OFF THE PRESS:
Tree Anthology edited by Henry Fischer, Nicole Lane, Kathryn Takach, and Dan Lodge (Dearborn Public Library 2021) 294 pages.
What a beautiful book. I am hugging this anthology now and I look forward to reading the variety of stories and poems written by 67 contributors ranging from the school aged youth to the retired young at heart. There is also a Picture-a-Tree section featuring striking black and white images taken during Michigan’s stay-at-home orders.
I fell in love with this project as soon as I heard about it. For several years now, the Dearborn Public Library in Dearborn, Michigan has organized a celebration called NEA Big Read-Dearborn in which the library and numerous community partners come together for a common theme. NEA Big Red is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in Partnership with Arts Midwest and the 2020 theme was “The World Is Your Lab”. Publication of the 294-page anthology was delayed due to the pandemic but it has just been released with copies available from the library as well as Amazon.
The Tree of Life by Sarah Klassen (Turnstone Press 2020) 122 pages
Another recently acquired book for my library is The Tree of Life, the eighth poetry collection by Manitoba writer Sarah Klassen. I am not familiar with Klassen’s work but thanks to the pandemic and the posting of virtual launches from across the country and even the world, I had a chance to see her read and was attracted to this book. The content may be varied with non-tree sounding sections such as Rise and Go; Travelling with Children; Perchance to Dream; Angels of Ancient Cities; Half the Sky; Alpha and Omega; and Ordinary Time. However, there is that spiritual (tree-inspired) pilgrimage of a higher existence that appealed to me.
As poet Angeline Schellenberg praised on the back cover, “…The Tree of Life is oxygen for the weary…” while poet Carla Funk stated, “This is poetry bent on ascension, blazing with light, seeking with grit that tree of life whose roots drink deep from the waters of eternity.”
By The Wishing Tree – A Canadian Poetry Anthology edited/compiled by Becky Alexander, illustrated by Eva Kolacz (Beret Days Press 2021)
This project by The Ontario Poetry Society will feature tree-themed poems by members of this grassroots poetry organization. Submissions from members are still being accepted until March 31, 2021. See additional details here.
The book is expected to be released late August 2021.
“Poetry in Place” Anthology compiled and edited by Dr. Deborah Bowen
According to a recent submission call, this curated anthology of poetry will include “a wide range of contemporary poets whose writing is ecologically concerned and comes out of/refers to the area of southern Ontario bounded by the Grand River to the west and the tip of Lake Ontario to the east, and the land stretching from Guelph to St. Catharines, including Hamilton, Kitchener/Waterloo, Brantford, and the Six Nations territories.” Publication date to be determined.
Can’t wait? Review one of Dr. Deborah Bowen’s earlier on-line projects published in 2018. “The Poetry and Ecology Project” features leaflets on seven topics: food, water, trees, wild birds, wild creatures, flowers and pollinators, and degraded land.
Do you have a tree poem that needs a home? Caitlin Press is seeking poetry with a passion for trees and forests, particularly West Coast ancient temperate rainforest species. Accepted work will be included in an upcoming anthology to be published in collaboration with Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther.
The new deadline for this anthology is June 1, 2021. See additional info here.
TO BE CONTINUED:
A future blog post highlighting my seven-favourite tree-themed books and their respective Goodreads reviews will appear in a few days.
In the meantime, follow me on Goodreads for additional and future reviews of tree-themed books on my to-read shelf.
Happy tree-hugging everyone!
*From the back cover of Tree Anthology (Dearborn Public Library 2021)
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