Poems for the Pacific

Edited by Yvonne Blomer

While in the world of politics there are still climate change deniers, the poets watch the warming seas, the dying birds slicked in oil, the whales, the jellies, the sea otters and the octopus. They stand, as close to the shore as possible, watch the slow turning tide. In this collection of poems from the coast of B.C., California, Washington State, to Alaska and as far away as Auckland, New Zealand and as far back as early 19th century Japan these poems explore our connection to the Pacific, what we know and don’t know, how we’ve already changed the shore and the sea and what we fear losing.

Poets in this anthology include John Barton, Brian Brett, Bruce Cockburn, Lorna Crozier, Brenda Hillman, Gary Geddes, Steven Heighton, Patrick Lane, Arleen Paré, Melanie Siebert, Anne Simpson, Rob Taylor, Patricia Young, Jan Zwicky and many more.

In Refugium, editor Yvonne Blomer explores her deep concern with our sixth extinction and how stoic humans are continuing to wreak damage on the planet and her oceans.

Refugium performs a kind of eco-location, searching for home in the wreckage, sounding out a marinium that is receding both from itself and from us, the prodigal children of the Anthropocene. Many-tentacled, this collection reaches into various aesthetic registers and gathers a range of sophisticated voices to create a whole that is, like the ocean itself, at once a single entity and a multitude.”
— Sue Sinclair, author of Heaven’s Thieves, (Brick Books), winner of the 2017 Pat Lowther Memorial Award

“[Refugium] is deep and wide and contains wonderful work written […] assign this as part of a class on contemporary Canadian poetry, such is its range of writers. An anthology around a conceit or a theme doesn’t always work, but this one feels focused and taut, even though there is plenty of it: eighty-three poems, many fairly long. It makes a political and poetical and common sense-case for not exploiting the natural world, a case made through accretion and good editing – that is to say, lightly but strongly.”
University of Toronto Quarterly, 88.3 (Summer 2019)

“Like the ocean, Refugium pushes and pulls us, comforts and terrifies us, in poems that are playful, grief-stricken, awe-struck, hopeful, condemnatory, speculative, historical, personal. But the undercurrent is all of love.”
— Amy Reiswig, Focus on Victoria

“These are not poems about or to the ocean, but for it.”
—Phyllis Reeve, The Ormsby Review

“What we Heard about the Sea/ What the Sea Perhaps Heard” by Rachel Rose
“Found Poem of Straight of Georgia Insults” by Tim Bowling
“Verses, The Ocean, The Tipping Point” by Arleen Paré
“Murals” by Patricia Young
“Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Pacific” by John Barton
“Origins” by Bruce Rice
“Edgy” by Heidi Greco
“Atkinson Light” by Gary Geddes
“How I Envy Jellyfish” by Rebekah Rempel
“Pacific Variations” by Stephen Collis
“Wolf” by Patrick Lane
“Man-Made” by Terri Brandmueller
“Passages: Fjords & Islands” by Jeremy Pataky
“Tethered” by Linda Crosfield
“Residual” by Anita Lahey
“Brown Turban Snail” by Gillian Wigmore
“Comparative Biology” by Jamella Hagen
“Ocean Child” by Terry Ann Carter
“The Weststrangled Sea” by Makyla Curtis
“The Young Ravens that Cry” by Russell Thornton
“Moon Jelly” by Nancy Pagh
“Interface” by Christine Smart
“Rainier Twice in a Day” by Nicholas Bradley
“Tent Island, Anchorage, 1962” by Terence Young
“Flatlander” by Tanis MacDonald
“Sinking” by Luther Allen
“Swimming” by Clea Roberts
“Seeing” by Jan Zwicky
“Notes on Whale Jump” by Méira Cook
“Small Boat: IV” by Kate Braid
“My love, the Pacific” by Alana Sayers
“The Sea is not Celibate” by Catherine Greenwood
“Fata Morgana” by Michael Jaeggle
“Paint the Big Island” by Barbara Tramonte
“Ocean’s Edge” by Melanie Siebert
“Grace Harbour, Desolation Sound” by Emily Wall
“The Cleaner” by Jim Roberts
“From Surge” by Emilia Nielsen
“Argument with Captain Vancouver over the naming of Desolation Sound” by Cynthia Woodman Kerkham
“On Dallas Road” by Isa Milman
“Glenairley: An Elegy” by David Pimm
“Outlier of Industry” by Lorin Medley
“What Could Be More Alluring than the Tides” by Beth Kope
“Hook” by Maleea Acker
“Shelter in Place” by Bren Simmers
“Tashlik” by Barbara Pelman
“&” by Rob Taylor
“From Lot a long poem about growing up on Haida Gwaii” by Sarah de Leeuw
“The New Jerusalem” by Joe Zucchiatti
“I walk to the Beach with Jenna after watching This Changes Everything” by Wendy Morton
“Coal Trains” by Emily McGiffin
“From The Place of Scraps” by Jordan Abel
“Holland America” by Miranda Pearson
“Rich” by Christine Lowther
“And I have always lived close to the Sea” by Onjana Yawnghwe
“Break Gaze” by Shane Neilson
“Gutted” by Joe Denham
“False River” by Bruce Cockburn
“Herring Run (1)” by Cornelia Hoogland
“The Memorial Service for Whales” by Kaneko Misuzu, translated by Alice Major and Yukari Meldrum
“Pacific Ocean” by Brenda Hillman
“The Salish Sea” by Anne Simpson
“Vortex” by Alisa Gordaneer
“Parrotfish” by Dan MacIsaac
“At the Aquarium” by Joanna Lilley
“Three Penninsulas” by Sijo Smith
“Once” by Anne Hopkinson
“Island View Beach, Endangered Species” by Susan Stenson
“It Begins with an Image” by Betsy Warland
“Aristotle’s Lantern” by Lee Beavington
“Still Falling” by Philip Kevin Paul
“Terengganu” by Kelly Shepherd
“Vanishing Point” by Marlene Grand Maitre
“Salmon Child’s River Call” by Brian Brett
“Close to Wonder” by Kyeren Regehr
“Northern Gateway” by Lorna Crozier
“Slick” by Brian Campbell
“Anti-Litany” by Fiona Tinwei Lam
“XCIV” by Sonnet L’Abbé
“What have you done for us lately?” by Dan Mangan
“The Last Sturgeon” by Steven Heighton
“Ocean Memory” by Laurie D. Graham