Carole Chambers. Still Life Under The Occupation & Echolocation. 2002. Thistledown Press. Saskatoon, SK 1988. Quadrant Editions. Toronto, ON & 2002. Thistledown Press, Saskatoon, SK.

Review by Theresa Wolfwood. Director of the Barnard-Boecker Center Foundation, Victoria, BC, Canada.

“…any every tide teaches the lesson/impressions of water on sand/and then erases it/ to make this garden/you must stay here.”
from Garden in sand. P 19 – Still Life under the Occupation.

The best of poetry is rooted in place and passion; for Carole Chambers her passion is the place. She lives and writes on an island off the east coast of Vancouver Island. Hornby Island is a very special place of sea and ever changing sky and lush green and secret crannies. I live there part time and first met Carole at her day job in the post office. She is finely tuned to her physical environment and also to the social environment of this beautiful place, seemingly remote, but very connected to the larger world.

Chambers poetry is both specific and local and universal at the same time. Her images are powerful and her language honed to rock and sea, forest and garden.

Photo of Hornby Island Rocks by Theresa Wolfwood

In Echolocation, Chambers writes far and wide from the wars of Yugoslavia to the barbarous hunting to extinction of the Beotek by British gentlemen who gathered after church, “to hunt the savages/who knew how to live here.”

She also recalls her experience as one of a thousand citizens who gathered to protest logging in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island. When she is arrested by a mountie just doing what she had to, Carole mourns, “…. It is human to be afraid/of an unknown future/ to look after one’s own./We thought we had forever/against the green.”

About 10 years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Carole read The Great Rift at a glorious mixed media performance of music, song, dance and word on Hornby Island, a uniquely local production about the beginning of humanity in Olduvai Gorge. This epic poem, is included in Echolocation; I still get chills when I read it. The final words are about all creation and a paen of hope for life.

“…the ancient fault/ imperceptibly separates land from land/and will again allow the sea to take/its tithe of the dying/to feed the hatching world,/without end.”

Her ear hears the bees in the garden and she muses and warns against our destruction of the earth.

“…If we anger the bees/they will desert us/and our bellies will swell/with the emptiness/of our creation”

Chambers is a prophet of incredible power and vision; her poems are jewels of language; they are also psalms for our time.

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Theresa Wolfwood

Theresa Wolfwood is a writer and activist in Victoria, BC, Canada. Her poetry collection: Love and Resistance was published by Smallberry Press, UK. She serves as the director of the Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation (BBCF), Canada.

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