By Kate Braid
Usually, we take for granted or plain ignore the Earth we walk on, the Sky above, the Water we drink and bathe in or that falls as rain, the Fire we assume for heat, and the Wood that makes up our landscape and building materials. But over fifteen years as a construction carpenter, ... Read more
Usually, we take for granted or plain ignore the Earth we walk on, the Sky above, the Water we drink and bathe in or that falls as rain, the Fire we assume for heat, and the Wood that makes up our landscape and building materials. But over fifteen years as a construction carpenter, Kate Braid began to pay more attention to the materials she worked with and depended upon. Out of these she has crafted an intimate picture of what it is like to be wholly engaged with the elemental materials of earth, sky, water, fire and wood that we depend upon every day.
Elemental is a poignant, intelligent collection that asks us to look more closely at ourselves and the details that construct our rich and delicate world.
Kate Braid worked as a receptionist, secretary, construction labourer, apprentice and journey-carpenter before finally “settling down” as a teacher. She has taught construction and creative writing, the latter in workshops and also at SFU, UBC and for ten years at Vancouver Island University.
Braid is the author of the poetry books, A Well-Mannered Storm: The Glenn Gould Poems (2008), Covering Rough Ground (1991), To This Cedar Fountain (1995), Inward to the Bones: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Journey with Emily Carr (1998), and Elemental (2018). In 2005 Braid co-edited, with Sandy Shreve, In Fine Form: The Canadian Book of Form Poetry. It was re-released with a second edition in 2016 as In Fine Form: A Contemporary Look at Canadian Form Poetry. Her 2012 memoir, Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s World, tells the story of how she became a carpenter in the face of skepticism and discouragement. A revised edition of her award-winning poetry book Covering Rough Ground, Rough Ground Revisited, was published by Caitlin Press in 2015. In 2020, Braid released a collection of essays called Hammer & Nail, with Caitlin Press.
In 2012 Kate Braid was declared one of Vancouver’s Remarkable Women of the Arts. In 2015 she was awarded the Mayor of Vancouver’s Award for the Literary Arts for showing leadership and support for Vancouver’s cultural community, and in 2016 she received the Pandora’s Collective BC Writers Mentor Award. She lives in Victoria, BC.
“Kate Braid’s new collection, Elemental, is artistically and conceptually very tight—an impressive feat considering the poems were written over several decades and therefore likely not, originally, composed with this present collection in mind. And yet they work so well together: while the parts are accomplished, the whole is even stronger. […] Braid is so good at what she does: the line “one luminous black eye holds you” slows the reader right down and fixes their attention on that singular eye, just like the speaker’s experience…”
—Amy Mitchell, The Temz Review
“Braid knows exactly what she is doing as a poet…”
—Christopher Levenson, The Ormsby Review
“What is most compelling about this collection are Braid’s reflections on small revelations that arrive, unexpected, in brief moments when we step away from our preoccupation with technology and the compulsion to fill up all of our time. … Taken together, the five sections of Elemental reveal Braid’s deeply reverent appreciation of the world around her. ”
—Jody Baltessen, Prairie Fire
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