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The Salmon Shanties - A Cascadian Song Cycle

The Salmon Shanties

A Cascadian Song Cycle

Paperback : 9781779400154, 208 pages, September 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-09-10


Harold Rhenisch’s poems balance the settler and Indigenous experiences of land and water in the Pacific Northwest

A collection of shanties laid out in couplets that move between English and Chinook Wawa, The Salmon Shanties celebrates a poetic tradition deeply rooted in the West Coast. Harold Rhenisch explores memories of people, place, and of returning home, speaking the land’s names as a music of its own and creating a series of aural maps.

Imbued with rhythms of Secwepemc grass dances, the colloquial chatter of the Canadian poet Al Purdy, and the spirit of poet and historian Charles Lillard, Rhenisch’s work sings of roots to the land lifted up by the sea into the sky—as if Ezra Pound had sung of Cascadia instead of Europe.

Do not be in Mareuil and Périgeux tonight; it is 1912 no longer.
We, the land’s singers, are walking the star road on the long way home
with the crickets of a July evening above Tuc el Nuit,
the burrowing owls of N’kmp,
and the long memories of the dwarf shrews of Nighthawk.
Breath cannot be denied. Poh cannot be forsaken. Ezra, shantie.


“Harold Rhenisch is one of Canada’s finest poets.”—Nancy Holmes

“The land and waters themselves entrusted Harold Rhenisch to write these transcendent poems.” —Kathleen Flenniken

“Rhenisch’s words sing as water moves through them, making us one with the sea.” —Linda Rogers

“This is an astonishing book. It rips the world open. It takes no prisoners. It upends the entire overlay of globalism that has turned a peach into an industrial product. It is an ecstatic unravelling of the delusions of the present. Rhenisch’s visionary and prophetic voice joins those of the Indigenous Cascadian past to restore, in poetry, the sane and beautiful way of its water-keepers.” —Sharon Thesen

“Immersed in The Salmon Shanties, I feel like I’ve been following spawning kokanee all the way to the mountains, guided by the songs of sandhill cranes. These are the most expansive—at once loamy and riparian, documentary and cosmic—and the most learned, and the most rhythmically musical poems I’ve read in a long time (possibly ever).” —Kelly Shepherd

“Rhenisch’s poems weave geography, ecology and metaphor in unexpected ways. His writing is full of energy and insight.” —Don Gayton, ecologist and author of The Sky and the Patio: An Ecology of Home

“Harold is a magical ‘singer of this land,’ calling us home, to our Illahie, where we belong. Bursting with energies, these songs of Cascadia pour through like a waterfall cascading over the edge of history.” —David McCloskey, Cascadia Institute