CoCoPoPro: "A rhizomatic SOS": The Eco-poetics of Vivian Deluth

April 10, 2013

Vivian Demuth's poetry is a thoughtful and committed exploration of our relationship with the environment, and her questions are specifically located in the context of the boreal forests of Alberta. Demuth believes poetry can help grow communities of interest (read her Q&A below), and she uses humour and magic realism to bring that poetry to life. This poem is from her collection Fire Watcher, published by Guernica Editions.

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Vivian Demuth's poetry is a thoughtful and committed exploration of our relationship with the environment, and her questions are specifically located in the context of the boreal forests of Alberta. Demuth believes poetry can help grow communities of interest (read her Q&A below), and she uses humour and magic realism to bring that poetry to life. This poem is from her collection Fire Watcher published by Guernica Editions, which was just released last week.

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Q&A with Vivian Demuth

What are you reading right now?
At the moment, I’m going back and forth between two different books. One is a wonderful anthology called Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose and Poetry about Nature, edited by Lorraine Anderson. And the other is Margaret Atwood’s The Tent, in which I’m enjoying the wide range of topics she covers in her pieces written in a variety of different short forms.

Where is the oddest place in which you have ever written (or been inspired to write) a poem?
The most unique place in which I’ve been inspired to write a poem has been 60 feet above the ground in the small cupola of a mountain fire tower during the middle of an intense lightning storm. Of course, many of the poems in Fire Watcher, were written during calm times in a cedar cabin on the ground, which, for the vast majority of people who haven’t lived for long stretches of time in that kind of mountain solitude, might already feel like a fairly unusual location, even without the added elements of being up in the swaying cupola during an active storm.

What’s your must-read literary magazine or website?
My favorite literary journal these days is Lake: A Journal of Arts and Environment, an interesting and eclectic publication, which includes essays and artwork as well as poetry and fiction, and which is published out of the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

Do you think that eco-poetry can help change the way people see the world around them? And why?
I do think that eco-poetry can play important roles in helping to change people’s perceptions and actions, when it comes to relating with the living Earth. I think that is especially true today because poetry’s general popularity seems to be on the rise, and because more people than ever live in urban environments and don’t have the opportunity to develop relationships with natural places. Poems filled with interesting observations and language can help raise public awareness of key issues and inspire people to ask questions. Imaginative or provocative eco-poetry can help people envision new and more sustainable ways of interacting with the various environments in which we live. I think that Canadian eco-poetry can help, and has helped, grow communities in ways that make the wide range of advocacy on behalf of diverse environments more effective. 

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Vivian Demuth has worked as a park ranger and park warden, an outdoor educator, and as a fire lookout in the Rocky Mountains. 

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*Edited from the original post, published on the LPG blog


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