The Civic-mindedness of trees

The Civic-mindedness of trees

Ken Howe
  • $17.00

April 2013
102 pages | ISBN 978-1-894987-72-1

**Winner of the A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry from the Quebec Writers' Federation**

**Winner of the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry**

In The Civic-mindedness of Trees, award-winning poet Ken Howe updates the vocation of the lyrical "nature poet" for the twenty-first century. These poems are witty and philosophical meditations on the haunting presence of the natural world, and on the familiar presence of humanity within it. In this book, eccentric odes to oak trees and ground squirrels renew the mysteries of plant and animal life; it is not an idealized Eden untouched by people, but a world, also, of highways that skirt the abyss and of "the great ruined jobsites of space" – a world all the more strange for being real and lived-in. At once playful and sublime, Ken Howe's linguistically daring investigations have updated the staid genre of "eco-poetry" for the information age.


Uncommon Beasts (Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews, 03/12/2014)

"The reader feels utter confidence in the quirky journey he is taking us on. His scholarship is riddled with lingual jouissance, so that his poems of eco-yes (even the paeans to the pathetic fallacy) are imbued with adoring verve, leaping with the riches his original background as both musician and translator have proffered him."


“Douglas fir”

It is easier to apprehend the sacredness of the Douglas fir in the mountains, where it ismore rare.

Frequently alone in a meadow, surrounded by dropped fir-cones, needles bestrewing the pedestal, the dais.

The Douglas fir can eschew standing in a fire which burns but does not consume when interpolating a Charlton Heston or other zealot. Its aloofness is its interpellation, cleanly articulate in the thin alpine silence.

The meadow is filled with this silence, Ukrainian dolls of it radiating from the tree, a choir of bumblebees in the goat-grazed grass, labyrinth of columbine and saxifrage attaining the ends of the valley to diagram, in labelled SI units, the isobars of its beatitude.

Revised Poems

Check out the revised editions of some of the poems from The Civic-Mindedness of Trees.


Ken Howe reads "Summer of Storms" from his newest collection, The Civic-Mindedness of Trees, at Wolsak and Wynn's Spring 2013 launch in Toronto.

About the Author

Ken Howe is a dyed-in-the-wool Québécois born in Edmonton, who moved north to the idyllic town of Beaverlodge at age nine. He studied horn (a.k.a. French horn) performance in university and later became a Jesuit novice. Still later he landed a job as principal horn of the Regina Symphony, where he remained for eight years before being fired just as his first poetry collection, Household Hints for the End of Time, was being released. He now lives in Quebec City and has a fun job as a translator. His tenuous hold on sanity is ensured by his wife, E., and their son, Zachary.

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