Monday, August 16, 2010

Hannah Main-van der Kamp

Hannah Main-van der Kamp lives in Victoria, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island — and summers in BC’s Desolation Sound. These locales provide a rich backdrop for her poems. She is an observant nature poet who paints each scene in multi-layered language that often carries our thoughts to the broader meanings of significant biblical texts: A log-boom proposing an opportunity to walk on water — or a contemplative, echoing The Lord’s Prayer, receiving her “daily allotment of gazing” as her daily bread.

In “Seeing Through”, an old man with a chainsaw is cutting beached logs for firewood. “Sun breaks in, / grey so bright you need fog glasses / to see darkly / two loons resting on bevelled glass.”

In the anthology Poetry As Liturgy she says, “The practice of observing one’s own physical environment is much like participating in religious liturgy. These holy tasks ask me to approach with a certain openness and then they expand that opening.” She adds, “How to transmute that wordlessness into words is the poetic calling which engages me and will never be fully achieved.”

The following poem is from her fourth collection, According to Loon Bay (The St. Thomas Poetry Series).

Where Thieves Do Not Break Through. An Aside

Washed up, relinquished of haste, the butt log
on its side in Scuttle Bay, attends the mantra of tides.

At 300 feet, a Douglas fir is wealth
laid up in the heavens. But here in the lost timber graveyard,
it begrudges nothing, makes no effort
to add even a cubit to its stature.

All the engines are shut off. The chain saws, logging trucks,
even the whine of the tugboats. Only the sound
of confident kingfishers breathing over water.

Left for dead, humble as bones,
now the hero is a beginner. Relinquished
of complexities, he discovers wealth in waiting.
Wherever the heart wood is, there is the treasure.

Cork bark furrowed by beetles.
Cambium in depredation by tussock moth and bud worm.
The Big Tree Epic toppled.
In place of the dense crown, a wreath of dry kelp.

Stormy channel of the Shearwater Passage
has brought Vigour down to sea level.

All the time in the world now.
The first life thrown away, that the second
might be established.

(Posted with permission of the poet)

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: