On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood – Richard Harrison (2016, Buckrider Books, Ontario)
Calgary poet Richard Harrison has carefully stitched together memory, reflection, and perspective in his newest collection On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood (for which he won a Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2017). The profound effects of his beloved father’s suffering and death from dementia and the loss of personal property and goods in the devastating flood of 2013 (which I write about in a post here) shape nearly all of these poems in some way, raging and trickling and dredging the reader in emotion and silt. Accordingly, they’re not beautiful poems – they’re ragged and raw, but you can visibly feel the catharsis and healing within them. From “Prayer”:
I first saw a mention of The Alberta Flood Rose Project on the blog one+one stones, as Calgary artist Barbara previewed her entry for this unique fundraising effort for flood relief in southern Alberta. She was part of a group of over 450 visual artists (both adults and children) who created small 4″x4″ renderings of our provincial flower, the wild rose, that were combined into eight collections. After a brief tour, the collections were auctioned off in August, with all of the proceeds donated to the Red Cross. There is now a beautiful little book available which gathers photographs of all of the artwork together.
What absolutely amazes me as I go through the book is the range of interpretation of the subject matter and the diversity of the media used to create the works. There is a gallery up at the project’s website – please do treat yourself and click through here to see a large selection of the fabulous pieces. What a wonderful way to showcase talented Alberta artists and offer support for everyone in flood-ravaged areas!
It’s the first day of summer and I should be happy. (After all, winter was obscenely long, and spring was just plain weird…).
Unfortunately, the city of Calgary and about 20 outlying communities are under a state of emergency right now due to massive flooding – the kind of flooding that hasn’t happened in nearly a century, if ever. Two rivers – the Bow and the Elbow – flow through Calgary and pretty much all of the downtown core and any neighbourhoods near the banks are completely underwater. Up to 100,000 people have been evacuated in Calgary alone. Thankfully, the neighbourhood where my hubby and I live is on high ground, distant from the rivers. But the destruction is difficult to fathom, and it’s even worse outside of the city. I can’t believe the videos and photos I’ve seen on the ‘net from towns such as High River, Canmore, and Bragg Creek – they’re incredible and heartbreaking. The stories of loss and all of the amazing acts of kindness and generosity are overwhelming.
And it’s still raining in some of the affected areas.
I just hope everyone in the flood zones will be safe, and that we can all pitch in to lend a hand wherever needed!
I sure hope you’re having a better solstice than we are in southern Alberta! What are your plans (gardening or otherwise) for the weekend?