BC Poetry 2017: "Otolith" by Emily Nilsen (Goose Lane Editions)

Pre-dawn Walk
Who walks
behind you, wringing
your shadow over the marsh?
First frost and beneath the bridge
water slows into ice whorls.
An otter chews through
a trout, chews the gnawing
winter, thins the world around you.
Who skulks through the valley, trapping
your sleep in invisible snares?
                           You step nearer
the river as morning mist lifts
the drowned night
onto shore.


Emily Nilsen was born and raised in Vancouver. She has published poems in PRISM International, Lake, and the Goose, and in a chapbook entitled Place, No Manual. Nilsen was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015, after have been longlisted for the prize on three separate occasions. Her work has also been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia.


Otolith — the ear stone — is a series of bones that help us to orient ourselves in space. In Otolith, Emily Nilsen attempts a similar feat in poetry: to turn the reader's attention to their relationship to the world, revealing an intertidal state between the rootedness of place and the uncertainty and tenuousness of human connection. Born in the fecundity of British Columbia's coastal rainforest, these poems are full of life and decay; they carry the odours of salmon rivers and forests of fir; salal growing in the fog-bound mountain slopes.

This astonishing debut, at once spare and lush, displays an exquisite lyricism built on musical lines and mature restraint. Nilsen turns over each idea carefully, letting nothing escape her attention and saying no more than must be said. Combining a scientist's precision and a poet's sensitivity, Otolith examines the ache of nostalgia in the relentless passage of time.


Arrived March 2017.


Book Launches: Launches Thursday, April 13th in Nelson, at Touchstones Nelson - Museum of Art and History!

Purchases: From the Goose Lane website or at your local bookstore. $19.95.


Birthing poems in the coastal rainforest's fecundity.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

No comments: