February 2021 to March 2022 was a period of great reflection for two of Canada’s most celebrated poets. Ariel Gordon and Brenda Schmidt wrote collaborative poetry, formatted like a call and response. Ariel intended to write about urban Manitoba, the city and its trees, and Brenda was to write about rural Saskatchewan and birds. Over the course of the year, the matter of place took over and the intentions branched and flew apart. The poets wrote about the natural world and people making their way through it all. They wrote home as they found it, observing climate as it manifested in drought-stressed trees and stunted crops covered in grasshoppers, in wildfires and wildfire smoke hanging over the prairies. Survival, struggle, keen naturalist perception, and endless wit, bring forward the idea of hope, rejuvenation, and the generative power of community.
“When future generations ask what it was like to live through the 2020s pandemic, this poetic correspondence [that] cawed, roared and hooted from either side of an impassable prairie must absolutely be pressed into their hands.”– Joanna Lilley, author of ‘Endlings’
“This thoroughly beguiling dialogue makes ‘nature poetry’ freshly compelling. We are given a year-full of creatures, plants, weather, observantly described at a time of change—drought and flooding, dying elms, viruses, cellphone technology. Yet we are not made glum or panicked. The book makes us care. We’re all in this together, coyotes, songbirds, tractors and a wild turkey roosting in a city tree.”– Alice Major, author of ‘Welcome to the Anthropocene’
“In this heart-to-heart conversation, poets Ariel Gordon and Brenda Schmidt document the broken beauty of a world in crisis. Rooted in place and powered by precise observation, these generous poems will speak to you wherever you do your own siteseeing.”– Candace Savage, author of ‘A Geography of Blood: Unearthing history in a prairie landscape’
“City and country, Ariel Gordon and Brenda Schmidt voice the extraordinary in the ordinary—the blackbird singing backup to a front-end loader, the garden waiting for rain—as the world slouches toward apparent apocalypse. These poems will have you wondering if it is okay to laugh when we should be crying. (And, yes, it is.)”– Trevor Herriot, author of ‘Towards a Prairie Atonement’ and ‘Grass, Sky, Song’