BC Poetry 2018: "Elemental" by Kate Braid (Caitlin Press)

Masters of the Earth

Do you know? Don’t you wonder? What's going on down under you? — David Crosby
Masters of the earth, when you shelter under a tree in a storm, place your ear against its bark: listen as it sings in a long wild key while roots, like toes, scramble under you. Seismologists can’t test during storms because the movement of tree roots distorts sound. So while wind whips rain ‘round your head and you take these trees for givens, remember you lean your ear against a living friend and be careful.


Beginning in 1977, Kate Braid worked for fifteen years as a construction labourer, apprentice, red-seal carpenter and contractor. She was the first woman on the Executive Board of the Vancouver, BC Carpenters' Union and first woman to teach construction at the BC Institute of Technology. She later taught Creative Writing for 12 years. She has published fourteen books and chapbooks of non-fiction (including a memoir, Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s World), and of prize-winning poetry.


Usually, we take for granted or plain ignore the Earth we walk on, the Sky above, the Water we drink and bathe in or that falls as rain, the Fire we assume for heat, and the Wood that makes up our landscape and building materials. But over fifteen years as a construction carpenter, Kate Braid began to pay more attention to the materials she worked with and depended upon. Out of these she has crafted an intimate picture of what it is like to be wholly engaged with the elemental materials of earth, sky, water, fire and wood that we depend upon every day. Elemental is a poignant, intelligent collection that asks us to look more closely at ourselves and the details that construct our rich and delicate world.


Arrived February 2018.


Purchase from the Caitlin Press or at your local bookstore. $18.


Paying attention to the materials.

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

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