WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

"I'm thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry."

The Poet Laureate of Tofino is shining a spotlight on trees.

Christine Lowther recently launched a call for submissions for a Tree Poetry Anthology.

“We seek poems with a passion for trees and forests, particularly West Coast ancient temperate rainforest species. Poems that express keen observation, fierce protectiveness, commitment, respect, care, activism. Poems that strive to keep trees rooted and dispel the myth of hazardous and inconvenient trees. Surprising poems that address issues like climate and clear-cutting by poets who blaze new ways of seeing and being with our branched brethren,” reads Lowther’s call out.

The deadline was extended to June 1, 2021, and elementary and high school age youth are encouraged to submit. Caitlin Press expects to publish the book of tree poetry by 2022.

Lowther says her inbox has been flooded with submissions from around the world since launching the project. To date, she’s received poems from Greece, England, the States and all over Canada.

“It has been an experience in equal parts frustrating and enjoyable. It’s not easy rejecting poets’ work, whereas it’s a joy when a poem hits the mark. The feeling of a submitted poem growing on me is exciting—even thrilling. I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry and to be helping them by way of the Poet Laureate Program,” she says.

Lowther recalls twenty years ago the community process of saving the 800-year old Eik Cedar Tree (across from Shelter Restaurant) from being cut down.

“At one point, Eik was the most famous tree in Canada. In 2001, it was on the front page of the National Post. Levi Martin did a whole dedication ceremony and everything.”

Tofino’s 800-year old Eik Street Cedar Tree was saved by strenuous community effort.

She hopes her Anthology of Tree Poems will help save more trees.

“The West Coast has lost thousands of trees: from developments, the MUP extension, the airport clear-off, helipad and hospital alterations, storm trees, ‘hazard’ trees—and now Tofino’s third phase-upgrade of Campbell Street proposes to kill five more. The bandaid of planting new saplings can’t make up for the killing of living, giving trees that deserve our respect and gratitude. Many replantings are cut down ten or twenty years along, with the event of another upgrade. Where there’s a creative, solution-driven will, there is a way to keep trees standing,” Lowther says.

Lowther’s work has appeared in three environmental anthologies published by Caitlin Press: Rising Tides, Refugium, and Sweet Water.

Her 208-page memoir Born Out of This was shortlisted for a BC Book Prize and can be found at Mermaid Tales in Tofino or Blackberry Cove Market in Ucluelet.


nora.omalley@westerlynews.caLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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