Riven: Poems

Riven: Poems

by Catherine Owen
Riven: Poems

Riven: Poems

by Catherine Owen


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Winner of the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry
In 2010, Catherine Owen’s 29-year-old spouse died of a drug addiction. A year later, she relocated to an apartment by the Fraser River in Vancouver, B.C. As she moved beyond the initial shock, the river became her focus: a natural, damaged space that both intensifies emotion and symbolizes healing. In a sequence of aubades, or dawn poems, Owen records the practice of walking by or watching the river every morning, a routine that helps her engage in the tough work of mourning. Riven (a word that echoes river and means rift) is an homage to both a man and an ecosystem threatened by the presence of toxins and neglect. Yet, it is also a song to the beauty of nature and memory, concluding in a tribute to Louise Cotnoir’s long poem The Islands with a piece on imagined rivers. While Designated Mourner honors grief, Riven focuses on modes of survival and transformation through looking outward, and beyond.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770415249
Publisher: Misfit Book
Publication date: 04/14/2020
Pages: 88
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Catherine Owen was raised in Vancouver and lives in Edmonton. She has published 15 collections of poetry and prose. Dear Ghost was nominated for the Pat Lowther Award and won the Alcuin Prize. Locations of Grief, her memoir anthology, is also forthcoming.

Read an Excerpt

Nature Writing 101

Our minds can turn anything romantic.
Is the problem.
The sewagy mud of the Fraser a quaint muslin & the spumes

         pulsing out of chimneys at the Lafarge cement plant look,
         at night, like two of Isadora Duncan’s scarves, pale, insouciant veils,
         harmless. The trees are all gone but then aren’t our hearts

more similar to wastelands.
We can make it kin, this pollution, children one is sad about yet still fond of, their delinquency linked to our own, irreparable with familiarity, a lineage of stench &

         forgiveness. Our minds can assimilate all horrors.
         Is the problem.
         The animals will disappear and those small, strange invertebrates;

the bees will vanish & in the well-oiled waters, fish will surge their deaths over the sand bags.
But then we keep saying, “Let’s construct another narrative.”

         The nightmares must simply be called reality.
         And after this you see,
         it is possible to carry on.

Table of Contents

Thirty-Six Sentences on the Fraser River that Could Serve as a Very Small Nest 11

Nature Writing 101 13

Beseech 14

To the Artist of Twenty-First Century Canadian Nature Painting 15

Fraser River, Thanksgiving 2011 16

"Who can say why or how it all blazed away" 17

Two Stanzas in Autumn 18

Meditation by Water 19

Earth Day 2012 20

Dusk from the Fourteenth Floor: a Pastoral Elegy 21

Let us look at the silver river 25

I have not brought you to this river for nothing 26

Though the duck, passing through the glittering span 27

As the crow drops down from the roof and over 28

I miss you says the river, and this is a difficult proposition 29

Every day I go to find you & every 30

Ice first and then mist and the river passes 31

The morning after it wasn't morning anymore 32

Sundays, in the frozen construction site 33

Suddenly, it's mid-December - the river 34

The inexorable, the river, and the sounds 35

And now a swan by the shipyards, an otter 36

They will disappear these ruins and this beauty too 37

Today the river is thick with wind 38

A tug passes and the river frays, splits 39

Lots of trains today, their whistles 40

Given respite this morning 41

Difficult today, the tears - and I see the river 42

You make me ache river with your - let me say it 43

Crow cries fall like snow after the snow 44

Come to the window - you call to me 45

The beach all geese today, slow sun dropping by 46

Sweetheart, I say to the river - good morning beautiful 48

They call it a brownfield, but of course today 49

Always, on opening your eyes, you gasp - 50

A strange amber stain on the river this morning - what is it - 51

Does the river need me, I wonder 52

Happy Valentine's Day river and you too of course 53

The river is so beautiful today I have no choice 54

A short line of ducks flying fast 55

Achingly beautiful - I understand this now - 56

The rain, machines but I remember - 57

And what if, after all this, river 58

The Last Aubade 59

Conniption: The River 63

One Haiku; Four Takes 65

One January Morning 66

Catch & Release 67

Reversals 68

One History of the Fraser 69

"Love should not be written in stone, but in water" 71

What they call this 72

Phantomnul 73

The River System 74

Acknowledgements 83

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