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Worth More Standing

Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees

Edited by Christine Lowther

Poets, both settler and Indigenous, pay tribute to trees through reflections on the past, connections to the present, and calls for the protection of our future.

In Worth More Standing: Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees, celebrated poets and activists pay homage to the ghosts of lost forests and issue a rallying cry to protect remaining ancient giants and restore uncolonized spaces.

Themes of connection, ecology, grief, and protection are explored through poems about trees and forests written by an impressive number of influential poets, several of whom have attended the recent Fairy Creek blockades and still others who defended old growth ecosystems in Clayoquot Sound nearly 30 years ago.

Contributors include ninth Parliamentary Poet Laureate Louise Bernice Halfe-Sky Dancer, GG winner Arleen Paré, Canadian icon bill bissett, Griffin Poetry Prize winner Eve Joseph, ReLit Award winner Patrick Friesen, Order of Canada and Order of the Rising Sun recipient Joy Kogawa, Vancouver Poet Laureate Fiona Tinwei Lam, Harold Rhenisch, Jay Ruzesky, John Barton, Kate Braid, Kim Trainor, Kim Goldberg, Pamela Porter, Patricia and Terence Young, Russell Thornton, Sonnet L’Abbé, Susan McCaslin, Susan Musgrave, Tom Wayman, Trevor Carolan, Yvonne Blomer, Zoe Dickinson and the late Pat Lowther.

“This anthology grounds us in the earth’s daily miracles, also known as trees, reminding us not to take them for granted. These poems acknowledge how we rely on and are part of a life force much bigger and wiser than us, giving us glimpses into the sacredness that trees make as they unconditionally transform sunlight into ‘nourishing air.’ From love to grief to gratitude to awe, this collection gives us lessons in the language of trees, crucial lexicons with which to navigate climate emergency.”

—Rita Wong, activist-poet, author of
Current, Climate: The Poetry of Rita Wong


“In this eclectic grove of poems written and gathered on the body of trees, poets inflect, root, bend towards the mythopoetic, listening with love to arboreality, walking the path towards tree immersion. ‘Make no mistake, I saw them relax their limbs and droop. Settling into their dreams.’ A language that will always mystify and sustain us. Enjoy this collection and touch wood. ‘tree, tell me what have you done with death.’ ‘today i ate chainsaws for breakfast.’”

—Mona Fertig, editor of Love of the Salish Sea Islands
and 111 West Coast Literary Portraits


“The tree is in the midst of an intellectual renaissance, judging by all the books on the lifeways, politics and communicative tendencies of networked forests. But poets have always been a People of the Tree, and the arboreal fund gathered in Worth More Standing covers the roots and branches of the entwined process of ‘becoming both human and tree.’ Our fate and the fate of forests have never been more entangled. This is a gorgeous and necessary collection, to be returned to again and again.”

—Governor General’s Award-nominated poet Stephen Collis


“Within moments of opening this exceptional book of poetry I was transported to the old growth forest. I could hear the wind rustling the fir needles. I could smell the cedar. Each poem in Worth More Standing is a gift of connection, spirit and beauty. At a critical moment in our history when we battle to protect the last of the planet’s ancient forests, this book is a clarion call from the heart.”

—Tzeporah Berman, Adjunct Professor, award-winning environmental activist and International Program Director of Stand.earth


“A chorus of poetic witness to the irreplaceable value of natural and old-growth forests to the vitality of our ecosystem and our own souls and bodies, Worth More Standing invites the reader to open its pages anywhere and find language that redeems, in myriad forms and voices, our true relationship to nature.”

—Sharon Thesen, acclaimed poet and editor; writer, critic,
and Professor of Creative Writing


“A masterpiece in cultural diversity unified with a call to action, Worth More Standing is a celebratory awakening to all Earth Citizens to see trees as far more valuable than in board feet of lumber. Our unified purpose must be to honour the old growth as we would our ancestors. Such forests and trees have been with us as long as we have been human. Their destruction means the loss of an essential component of our humanity.”

—Paul Stamets, award-winning mycologist, author, and bee protector

Table of Contents

Connection

Louise B. Halfe, The Sacred Tree
Sheena Robinson, Roots Anchored
Jeevan Bhagwat, The Linden Tree
Kathy Page, We the Trees
Calvin Wharton, Treelight Dialect
Terence Young, Dendritic
Deirdre Maultsaid, Listen. That Thrum
Yvonne Blomer, At the Heart of the Labyrinth
Rhona McAdam, Olive Tree
Robert Bal, protection under lotus feet
Nicholas Bradley, Umbellumlaria
Kim Goldberg, The Language of Trees
Cara Waterfall, Elegy for a Forester
Marcia Rutan, Summons
Alan Ackerman, The black cherry
Pauline Holdstock, School Run
Susan Swartwout, Call and Response with Trees
Lee Beavington, Samara
Ruth Daniell, Fall Down Tree
Rae Crossman, The Names of Trees
Shankar Narayan, Red Creek Fir
Eileen Moeller, Apparition
Florence Nash, Aloft
bill bissett, a tree
Sherry Marr, Ancestral
Joanna Streetly, Shore Pines
Cornelia Hoogland, Douglas Firs Outside my Window
Sally Quon, Here
Sonnet L’Abbé, LXXXIII
Adam J. Gellings, Still Blossoming
Jay Ruzesky, Carmanah
Fiona Tinwei Lam, In/Visible
Joy Kogawa, Dear Cherry Tree
Joy Kogawa, You Draw Me to You
Catherine Owen, Western Red Cedar Stories
Pamela Galloway, On Galiano
Yvonne Blomer, The Great Holm Oak
Kate Braid, Deep Forest, by Emily Carr
Patrick Friesen, crazy bone climbs a tree
Nicholas Bradley, Nap
Bren Simmers & Daniela Elza, now & then
Shirley Martin, Krummholz
Heidi Greco, Dreaming Heaven
Lauren Camp, Forest Man
Christopher Levenson, Two Trees and In Muir Woods
David Haskins, Last Night on the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu
Rae Crossman, Want to Touch the Sky?
Emily Wall, The Tree of Light, Galilee
Kurt Trzcinski, Mulberries
Marlene Dean, Sometimes
Leanne McIntosh, Facing the End
Leonard Neufeldt, Words and Tree
Jacqueline Pearce, growth rings: a haiku sequence
John Barton, The Lone Cypress
Susan McCaslin, Polyphony
Charlotte Barnes, Gleditsia triacanthos | Grief is a locust
Tom Wayman, Gratitude to Trees
Kate Braid, Lullaby for a Sick Father
Kersten Christianson, Prayer for the Wildness
Carla Braidek, Greenhouse Work and Words
Karen Rockwell, cedars
Shirley Martin, Trading Places
Marlene Grand Maître, Intertidal
Rae Crossman, October Forest Walk
Daniela Elza, inhabitions
Pat Lowther, ‘At the last judgement we shall all be trees’
Susan Musgrave, More than Seeing

Ecology

Jason Coombs, Window Shopping for Trees, Side B
Kathy Page, Bark
Tim McNulty, The Counsel of Pines
Ann Graham Walker, Arbutus menziesii
Bruce Hunter, Magnolia Fraseri Walt
Trevor Carolan, On a Rare Pacific Yew, Spared from Being Fallen in a School-yard
Catherine Graham, Willow
M.E. Silverman, Lesson Learned from Mowing
Carla Mobley, The Toquenatch Tree
Yuan Changming, Wintry Willow
Tanis MacDonald, Trees of Lower Manhattan
Laurie Koensgen, Place
Edward Ahern, The Swamp Oak
Deborah Fleming, Eucalyptus and Maple Tree
Elizabeth Bradfield, Succession
Joanna Streetly, Treeforce
Lynne Mustard, It Matters Not to You
Ulrike Narwani, Sequoia
Bill Yake, The Tree as Verb
Erin Wilson, A Philosophy of Water
Jennifer Lynn Dunlop, The Tree of Sky
Karen Chester, Seven Years in a Cedar Forest
Lynn Pattison, Trees in the Night
Patricia Young, Mushrooms
Eve Joseph, the hour before dawn
Kate Braid, Being Tree
Harold Rhenisch, The Forest of the Fish
Susan Glickman, Nurse Log
Leslie Timmins, question
Dan MacIsaac, The Log in the Woods
Pamela Galloway, Unexpected Gardens
Danial Neil, Windrush
Tim McNulty, In Their Time
John Beaton, Caledonian
Rob Taylor, Evergreen Lines
Sidney Bending, cedar scented breeze haiku sequence
Linda Crosfield, three senryu
Bill Perry, Tree ID
Lorraine Martinuik, Excerpted Work: The Language of Trees
Cairistiona Clark, Girl, Named for the Goddess of Love
Janis McDougall, Elevation
David Floody, Tree-beard Lichen (Usnea)
Barbara Hunt, Living Proof
D.A. Lockhart, Strommel’s Field Guide to the Catalpa Tree
Valerie Losell, Backyard Beauties, an excerpt
Neall Calvert, The Whole Forest
Kate Marshall Flaherty, Poplar Grove
Mary Nelson, Quw’utsun Grove
Kim Trainor, Ogam, the Tree Alphabet
Joan Mazza, To Deciduous Trees
Tamara Best, While Walking by the Convenience Store, I
Rhona McAdam, Hügelkultur
Susan McCaslin, O Black Cottonwood
Derrick Stacey Denholm, Interference: 13) spiral phylogenetics of water conduction in montane conifers, an excerpt

Grief

Jenn Ashton, Flatland
Russell Thornton, A Sign
Joanna Streetly, Slow Love
John Reibetanz, The Sacred Grove
Beth Kope, Big Lonely Doug
Dianna MacKinnon Henning, Tree Burial
Pamela Porter, Dust to Dust
Fiona Tinwei Lam, The Trees Have no Tongues
Fiona Tinwei Lam, Utility Pole
David Zieroth, in winter the lane is bleak, colourless
Sheila Stewart, To the white ash
Murray Mann, VII. The Kingdom and the Greed
Chris Bullock, Arbutus: A Requiem
Bibiana Tomasic, Plea to Old Growth
Lynda Monahan, Excerpted work: fall
Kathryn True, Ode to the Shinglemill Cedar
Nicole Moen, Alder Tree at the Intersection of Government, Wharf and Humbolt
Lynn Pattison, Song of the Pando

Protection

Zoe Dickinson, To the Premier of British Columbia, on the enforcement of an injunction removing blockaders from logging roads on Vancouver Island, May 2021
Kyeren Regehr, Acacia
Arleen Paré, Mind of the Forest
John Barton, Luna
Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Accelerated, Meta and Cutting: Five Tree Holograms
Karen Charleson, Aspersions
Cristy Watson, The Future Lives Here
Christine Schrum, The Tallest Poplar
Cara Waterfall, Elegy for a Forester
Laurie Smith, tree huggers
Kim Goldberg, Breath Work
Penn Kemp, Poem for the Fairy Creek Elders
Christine Lowther, To-Do List for Town Tree Protectors
John Beaton, The Tree or Not the Tree? That is the Question.
Cynthia Woodman Kerkham, Tree Hugger’s Pitch
John B. Lee, The Day the Black Locust Fell in a Storm
Moni Brar, Our Collective Limbic System
Shankar Narayan, Kubota
Melanie Higgs, Abecedarian of Oak
Weyman Chan, To the Old Growth Cedars of Fairy Creek
Tim McNulty, Coyote at the Movies