Robert Pepper-Smith and Harold Rhenisch will provide a mix of poetry, magic and spells at Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus Jan. 19.
Pepper-Smith, who teaches philosophy at VIU, is the author of Six Stories, The Wheel Keeper and a new novel, House of Spells. House of Spells is the second installment in a trilogy that has been set in a fictional region of southeastern B.C.
“Some readers will recognize landmarks similar to those in the Kootenay Valley, south of Revelstoke, but it’s a fictional landscape,” Pepper-Smith said.
He finds it fitting that he and Rhenisch will be reading in a hillside cabin tucked into a glade of trees on campus. The cabin, built with the support of forest industry donors, is a legacy from students and instructors in log house building courses in the 1980s and is regularly used as a classroom.
“It’s a magical setting so it’s quite appropriate,” Pepper-Smith said. “There’s a sense of enchantment in the book.”
Rhenisch, a poet, literary essayist and blogger based in Vernon, taught poetry and short fiction at VIU. His most recent books are an environmental volume, Motherstone: British Columbia’s Volcanic Plateau, and The Spoken World, a collection of poems inspired by the poet Robin Skelton.
The Spoken World celebrates the lyrical and spell-making tradition of poetry that has come to us through Old Norse, through Rhenisch’s relationship with Robin Skelton, a mentor who continues to be a guiding force long after his death. Skelton spent 30 years exploring a lyrical tradition that married the best of American and English traditions. For decades, Rhenisch has built on Skelton’s spell-making to advocate a return to poetry that is a wisdom path.
The readings, presented by Poets on Campus, will be in the log cabin, blg. 365, at 7 p.m. Use entrance 5G, off Fifth Street, for best access.