Say the Names...

Al Purdy wrote a wonderful poem called "Say the names say the names" which celebrates the names of Canadian rivers - Tulameen, Kleena Kleene, Similkameen, Nahanni, Kluane and on and on in a celebratory song.

Enbridge is planning to build a dual pipeline that will carry bitumen and condensate across hundreds of waterways between Edmonton and Kitimat. Some of these waterways are rivers like the Parsnip (or what's left of it), the Nechako, the Morice and others are smaller creeks whose names are often known only to the folks who live along their banks or who fish in their shadows or who bend to wash or drink as they cross paths.

I want to collect the names of these rivers and creeks, to collect your stories, your poems, your songs so we can collectively give voice to the land living under the line Enbridge plans to draw.

People have also sent me copies of their presentations to the community oral presentations. If you'd like to add your voice, email me ( your stories and I'll post them for you. The copyright remains with you.

All the best.
Sheila Peters

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Beached on Haida Gwaii

Norma Kerby sent me this gathering of poems after celebrating the launch of filling Station's northern BC writers edition in Terrace last week.

Beached on Haida Gwaii

in Hecate Strait, winds can blow over 150 km per hour
shallow waters waves tower more than 10 meters high
in Hecate Strait, any boat is a toy for the winter storms
Months after Randy Morrison spent eighteen hours in the frigid waters of Hecate Strait

building Randy Morrison with eighteen hours of torture in Hecate Strait
                                    W.C.B. ruling suspended  his claim
                        legs   in pain    skin burns from salt in stinging spray
                                           a doctor claims it's in his head

but they will be appealing        Randy Morrison           through shifting
            apparitions of bearded men that shout from boats of
            cold emulsion oil and ice like frozen drops of
                                            Caribbean sherbert lime


lady at the store said
            he drove the boat full-throttle into the beach
                                    that or drown he told the insurance company
but in town they all know
buybacks and lack of quota
make fishing like wishing        to win the lottery
                                                                           beautiful lines       all wood
                                                                                                she fills with sand each tide
                                                                                    lists to one side


in the fast cold sweep
                                    of the flying wind
nightmares are flung into
                                                irrelevance they
            tumble off across the dunes so quickly there is no time to say goodbye

            do not be angry
when i say that i love the wind
                                                it was only that i would
                                                                                    like a gull
                                                                                    hung suspended in the storm though
there was a gale
             wind so strong i
                        could not move but
                                                behind the dune
                                                a flock of seagulls
too windy even for them

soupfin shark

the shark had thrashed
a hole in the sand
                                                caught by the storm and
                                                falling tide
                                                it died in the
long bullet body
crescent slit of razor teeth
white skin scraped pink
                                                in cold north waters
                                                so odd
                                                a beast
                                                the currents sweep
                                                from other shores

glass ball

                                                                        caught between two cobbles
                                                                                    green glass
                                                                        base of a fishing float
            long journey from Japan bobbing across on foamy rollers
                                    winter storm     glass ball
                                                                                    smashed against the rocky shoals
                                                                                                pulverized to crystal sands
                                                except the bottom          dimpled where
                                    the master paused
                                       drew in his breath before he blew the           perfect bubble
                                                                     it glistens
                                                     green as cold Pacific waters


it was only a
                                                            tiny shell
                                                            pink and finely fluted
fairy scallop we called it
not knowing how such a                                  delicate
                                                            landed on the cobble beach
in the gloom of the office it sits
the window sill
speaking of                                          winds so fierce
                                                            there was nothing but
                                                            the land and the ocean


there are dunes
shifting dunes
                        moved by winds so wild
                        you lean
                                                a triangle into the frenzied
                                                waves curl back in funnels there are
with feral cattle
ancient village sites where once the
Haida raced before the storm
                    before the smallpox came

village on the shore

living on the fringe of the ocean
                        knowing that the edge of
                                    the sky    is the edge to
                                                    the other edge
                                                    of the ocean

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

N. Carol Brown - an anniversary

Prince Rupert's N. Carol Brown writes:

it is almost a year since I attended the Joint Review Panel in Prince Rupert. Since that time I have helped edit The Salmon Recipes book, which is having great success, and I feel that I have contributed to the movement to keep the north and ocean Oil Pipeline and Tanker Free. I revisited a poem that I wrote then and thought I would send it on to you. At the time I was very angry with the government of Canada and felt nothing deserved upper case letters except the original native concept of village. My hope was that readers would understand the concept and that maybe the people on the panel would hear the hope too, and revisit the vision of a village for our whole country.

Written for Presentation at the Enbridge Joint Review Panel, February, 2012, Prince Rupert

(Kanata is an aboriginal word meaning village or settlement)

i stand before you to bear witness
that the best minds of four generations
will express their love for this northern land

in canada : Kanata is
from the beginning
all that is expressed, all that is uncovered
whether beautiful, barren, bestial or disordered
honours this land, its people, its exploration and discovery.

respect the past, pioneers of the future.
love the land, air and sea, the rivers in between.
this land is not a political party, a race, religion or corporation.
be not an opponent of this land and its living celebration.

i am one small voice in the wilderness/city
joined with others i become a herd,
a flock, a migration - one echoing symphony that travels,
savouring  mountaintop,  valley and ocean,
only pausing a lightning strike in time
to rest on the waterways of our future.
n. carol brown