Sweet Water

Poems for the Watersheds

Edited by Yvonne Blomer

Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds gathers the voices of poets from across Canada, the US and the UK who write of water.  Bottled, clouded, held in rain, in river, estuary and lake, sweet water is the planet’s life force and the poets here examine it from every angle – the pitcher plant, the beaver and the American Bull Frog, rain, clouds, smog, the many ducks and the salmon and the last lake sturgeon. Poets take us to the rivers they live along – and grieve daily – the Peace River Canyon, Chilcotin, Taylor River, the Humber River, Millstone River, the Fraser River, and more.

In Canada, the watershed runs into the Pacific, Arctic, Hudson Bay and the Atlantic. This water houses the aquatic ecosystems that feed and nurture not only the people, industries and animals on land but also drains into the world’s oceans. It is part of the hydrologic cycle that begins with water evaporation to become groundwater that seeps into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. It is the water we bathe in, drink, and with which we grow our food. As it becomes more and more poisoned from industrial corporations, mining and the many, too many humans on our planet, it also becomes more and more endangered. We are paying attention. We are aware of the watershed moment that we inhabit in the twenty-first century. We know that change must come.

Contributors include Kate Braid, Gary Barwin, Katherena Vermette, Arleen Paré, John Pass, Ariel Gordon, Brian Brett, Rita Wong, Fred Wah, Trevor Carolan, John Terpstra, Russell Thornton, Zoë Landale, Christine Lowther, Elena Johnson, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Daniela Elza, Rhonda Ganz, Geoffrey Nilson, Pamela Porter, Barbara Pelman, Kelly Shepherd, Rob Taylor, Zachariah Wells, Bren Simmers, and more.

“Stop. Slow down. Suspend time. Let your soul come to rest in this haunting book as you take a quiet journey to a watershed that someone cherishes. Sweet Water examines our relationship to water in all its forms by the best poets among us and powerfully reminds us of our dependence on this precious life force. A wonderful collection.”
—Maude Barlow, activist, honourary chair of the Council of Canadians, and author of Whose Water Is It, Anyway?: Taking Water Protection into Public Hands

“It is no secret that freshwater has become more scarce as fossil fuel industry expansion and other dangerous land use practices continue. This refreshing volume, whose pages are made possible by the same substance that allows us to live in pursuit of decolonization and other forms of justice, is essential. If these charge-sequenced poems can prompt reflection on the stuff of reflecting pools, lives and ecosystems will be richer for it.”
— Christine Leclerc, author of the long poem Oilywood (Nomados Editions, 2013)

Table of Contents

Yvonne Blomer—Introduction

I. Sweet

George Szirtes—Water
Art Fredeen—Haiku: old engravings
Susan Stenson—Amniotic
Charlie Neyelle and Tom Nesbitt—The Water Heart
Nicholas Bradley—Provincial Letter
Laurie D. Graham—Antler River
Kim Goldberg—Skein
Iain Higgins—Small Song for the Watersheds
Barbara Black—Dharana
John Terpstra—A Brief History of Settlement on Hamilton Mountain, from 1789
Russell Thornton—When the Rain Comes
Rob Taylor—Weather in Dublin
Tom Nesbitt—Childhood: Danford Lake
Raine Gutierrez—I am the Sweet Water
Ishtar—Animal to Water, 2005
Lauren de Gaine—This Voice of Water
Joe Zucchiatti—Parts Per Billion
Lee Beavington—Mountain Stream
M.W. Jaeggle—Ubi Sunt
Michelle Brown—The Weight of Snow
Brian Brett—Beautiful Boys
Kurt Trzcinski—Pitcher Plant
Brent Raycroft—Blueroof
Kate Braid—Water to Water
Daniel Cowper—Thirst
Wendy Donawa—Stones Deep Accord, Its Steady Presence
Wendy McGrath—Kilrane
Geoffrey Nilson—The Sound of Cellulose
Nancy Pagh—Drift
Gary Barwin—The Birds, Butterflies and Snakes of Hamilton, Ontario
Beth Kope—Call it Wild Swimming
Solveig Adair—grandmother river
Claire Caldwell—Sounds a River Makes
Terri Brandmueller—Green Rain
Robert Boates—Late September
Bren Simmers—Judd Beach
Derk Wynand—Observation
Karen Charleson—Haiku: earth mother’s birth tears

II. Movement

Katherena Vermette—where
xavier o(rion) datura—Genius loci
Laura Apol—Riven
gillian harding-russell—Bypass Project
Trevor Carolan—Elaho
Emily Olsen—Herring Season, 1992
Harold Rhenisch—The Promise of Rivers Shanty
Alyse Knorr—Swamp Preserve
Rebekah Rempel—Crossing the Taylor Bridge
Alisa Gordaneer—Flying River
Zachariah Wells—The Pond
Karen Chester—Estuarine
David Martin—Homecoming
John Pass—Fish Ladder
Zoe Landale—Bute Inlet
Christine Smart—Wild Place
Fiona Tinwei Lam—Lost Stream
Kelly Shepherd—This Poem is One Pillar
Ariel Gordon—excerpt from Tree Talk: Winnipeg
Susan Alexander—The Whirlwind Questions Burnco Rock…
Fred Wah & Rita Wong—excerpt from Beholden
Anita Lahey—Don River, Crossings and Expeditions
Tanis MacDonald—A Feminist Guide to Reservoirs
Heather Fraser—Respawn
John Barton—Palm Springs
Christine Lowther—Not the Lake
Steven Heighton—Lost Waterfalls
Maureen Scott—Harris Groundwater
Al Rempel—Titled South
Dan MacIsaac—American Bullfrog
Kevin Spenst—Camping in the Time of Particulates
Bruce Hunter—Two O’clock Creek
Daniela Elza—Our Own Lemon Creek
Ulrike Narwani—Godsend
D. A. Lockhart—Dull Thuds over Waabiishkiigo Gchi-Gami
Maleea Acker—Hesitating Once to Feel Glory
David Yerex Williamson—Warren’s Landing Terry
Ann Carter—Haiku: from watershed to watershed

III. Grief

Dominique Russell—Russell Creek
Arleen Paré—Anthropocene
Jenna Butler—excerpt from Magnetic North: Sea Voyage to Svalbard
Ilona Martonfi—Chernobyl Evacuee’s Lament, Kopachi Village
Marion Quednau—Whether Report
Emily Wall—If this was the Euphrates
Dorothy Field—Sleeping with the River
Lorri Neilsen—Glenn Yellow Deck Chair, Black-Legged Ticks, Cracked Glass in Wood Frames
D.C. Reid—I Could Simply Give In
Christine Schrum—The Last Lake Sturgeon
Kirsten Pendreigh—Planetary Hubris
Jeremy Pataky—Falling Scene
Adelia MacWilliam—Lost Lake
Elee Kraljii Gardiner—Exorcise
Aaron Kreuter—Hydrophobia
Rhona McAdam—By the Glass
David Pimm—Watershed Sonnet
Dennis Saddleman—Water is Life or Death
Maureen Hynes—High Water Mark
Richard Harrison—Under Western Water: Returning to Work
Jackie Seidel—Post-Concussion Syndrome, or The Impacts of Protest
Barbara Pelman—Blueberry Creek
Murray Mann—excerpt from “The Lost Land”
Elena Johnson—Water Crossings
Catherine Owen—You make me ache river with your…
Eleonore Schönmaier—-40ºC
Lorin Medley—Kus-kus-um
Pamela Porter—Peace Country
Wendy Morton—Here, the watersheds are called
Cynthia Woodman—Kerkham With No Sweet Water
Joanna Lilley—Desert Fish
Marlene Grand—Maître Her Voice a Forge
Rhonda Ganz—Catching Rain in a Paper Bag
Diana E. Hayes—Walk to the Wetlands
kjmunro—Haiku: lake visit