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Poet contemplates time spent living near wetlands in qathet

Author says new book is about inner/outer reflection and contemplation

A wetland and slough south of town that was known as Albion Creek is now called Black Point. qathet writer and poet Hannah Main-Van Der Kamp lived in what she calls a rambly old house beside the wetland for 18 years with her husband and recently published a book of poetry titled: The Slough at Albion.

"As you go south of town, before you get to Donkersley Road, there is a huge culvert under the highway and through it runs Albion Creek," said Main-Van Der Kamp. "The creek wanders through wetlands, which is absolutely beautiful, very wild; nobody except birdwatchers wander through there. It's very wet and it keeps on flowing through and it goes into confluence with Kelly Creek."

Main-Van Der Kamp said she and her husband were very happy living beside the wetland but decided to sell the house last summer due to both of them being in their mid-70s.

"In anticipation of that, I pulled together from various files the poems I had written while living there, especially the ones that were about the Albion lands: its birds, gardens, weather and trees," said Main-Van Der Kamp.

The Slough of Albion is both literal and metaphoric for Main-Van Der Kamp.

"The slough I lived beside is very rich but it's also problematic; it floods and has a lot of rats, a lot of decay, but very beautiful also, especially for migratory birds," said Main-Van Der Kamp. "There was an old pioneer orchard there with 120-year-old trees; they no longer bear fruit but they still flower."

Main-Van Der Kamp emphasized that her book of poetry is about the beauty of the natural landscape and the literal slough she lived beside, but also the inner slough.

"I mean the various moods that we go through, especially, I guess, when you're older; the interstates which include, like the literal slough, mud as well as sunshine, and sometimes of sadness, as well as the joy of it," said Main-Van Der Kamp. "The poems alternate between the literal description and the inner slough that we sometimes enter."

Albion, from the Latin word albus, means glowing white, good fortune and beauty.

"Albion is all about the life of the garden, the life of my dogs, the slough, the celebrations of life," said Main-Van Der Kamp.

The book cover was created by local artist Annie Robinson, who makes her own ink using bark, leaves and berries. At a recent poetry reading Main-Van Der Kamp gave at Powell River Public Library, Robinson's art was projected onto the wall while the poems were read.

"Often, when I'm in nature, certain images strike me for some reason and then usually there are some words around that; not a whole poem, but some words that I remember and write down," said Main-Van Der Kamp. "Then it [the poem] kind of incubates and unfolds in an organic process."

Main-Van Der Kamp said her poetry is not declarative but reflective and contemplative.

"The last section of the book, there are several very long poems that are about meditation and contemplation," said Main-Van Der Kamp.

The Slough at Albion can be found at Pocket Books on Marine Avenue in Powell River.

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