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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I came across this marvelous, terrifying poem in Brick: A Literary Journal No. 93, Summer 2014. Brick has long been one of my favourite journals. Jan Zwicky has long been one of my favourite poets. They both have kindly given me permission to post "Near" below.

You don't read poetry, you say? This will change your mind. Read in a quiet corner, read it out loud to your friends, read it even louder in the town square.Take it out into the world where it belongs. Where you belong.

Near by Jan Zwicky

It arrives. The far dream
     that terrified us—that put the steel

in our forearms, and we woke each morning
     to its distant shuddering

is far no more. Heavy-limbed, it sprawls
     across the daylight, brushes back
the damp hair from our foreheads, stares
     and laughs. And the axle of our will

is seized, the wheel splintered, an engine
     that does not, does not
turn, and when we go below decks, find
     it is missing, a hollow, a dark sift

of emptiness, and the ferry is slammed 
     against its moorings, helpless, the contagion spreading,
and the one who knows, the one who has been readied,
     is absent from the table.

Near is the hard grief, the grief
     from the pit, whose hands shake, which cannot find
the knife, which cannot stand, or kneel, or lie,
     the grief that is tearless, that gags.

The clearcut, the dead zone, the gas-contaminated
     well, the salt earth, the foreign
investment protection, the child soldier,
     the rape, the spin, the addiction

to speed, the saving of labour, the image,
     the image, the image, the image,
the genetic modification, the electromagnetic
     field, the sense of entitlement, greed. The present

is thick-lipped and stunned; it sweats. The voice 
     of the century is a wild clanking, a loose stink that lifts
and settles in our mouths. Did you raise your hand? Did you
     say something? Louder. Louder.

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