Poems for an Oil-Free Coast

Poems for an Oil-Free Coast, Unpaginated, Red Tower Bookworks, special edition $75, regular edition $40

The physical characteristics of books produced by small presses can span a wide spectrum, from stapled and photocopied chapbooks that go for a couple of bucks, to beautifully bound and printed letterpress books that are considerably more expensive. Poems for an Oil-Free Coast falls into the latter category.

Poems comes in two editions. The regular edition is wrapped in cedar bark paper, and the special edition, which I received for review, is bound in yellow cedar boards. It’s a gorgeous object, meant to reflect the materials found in the rainforest.

The chapbooks were created a part of a fundraiser for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and were produced in conjunction with an art book, Canada’s Raincoast At Risk: Art for an Oil-Free Coast. Artists were asked to construct works in response to “the threat of shipping crude oil through the dangerous channels of Canada’s fragile raincoast.” The poems are meant to compliment the artwork, and are reproduced in the art book.

This collection contains poems and prose pieces from nine writers, one from each contributor, reflecting a multitude of voices, including those from people of First Nations descent. These poems and prose pieces reflect the fragility of Canada’s rainforests, depicting the flora, fauna and its people. The poems vary from the poignantly funny, to the beautiful and haunting.

It’s a neat collection for an important cause, and the cedar boards smell fantastic. For those of us geographically removed from British Columbia’s rainforests, this collection can serve as a physical (and fragrant) reminder of what’s at risk. (Nico Mara-McKay)

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