The Next Chapter

Randy Lundy recommends three books about nature

The Next Chapter columnist reviews Hunger Mountain by David Hinton, Field Notes for the Alpine Tundra by Elena Johnson and Dissolve by Sherwin Bitsui.
Randy Lundy is a poet and short story writer from Saskatchewan. (University of Regina Press)
Listen12:12

Randy Lundy is a short story writer, poet and member of the Barren Lands (Cree) First Nation. Lundy's poetry, including 2018's Blackbird Song, reflects on his life, his heritage and his spiritual connection to nature. 

Lundy stopped by The Next Chapter to talk about three books that explore the natural world.

Hunger Mountain by David Hinton

David Hinton is an American poet and author. (davidhinton.net, Shambhala)

"The subtitle for this book is 'a field guide to mind and landscape.' It's a big topic but a small book. I think it only runs about 140 pages. David Hinton is probably the foremost translator of classical Chinese poetry and philosophy. The book is focused on the relationship between consciousness and the landscape. He spends a lot of time talking about the pictographic nature of Chinese writing as opposed to the alphabetic nature of English writing.

The book is focused on the relationship between consciousness and the landscape.- Randy Lundy

"He suggests that, due to the pictographic nature, those who write in Chinese establish a mindset that's much closer to nature. Nature and spirit and language are all interwoven and all part of one another. They inform each other rather than being separate kinds of things."

Field Notes for the Alpine Tundra by Elena Johnson

Elena Johnson is a poet, editor and translator based in Vancouver. (Gaspereau Press )

"It's a collection of poetry by Canadian poet Elena Johnson, who lives in Vancouver. She's originally from New Brunswick. The book is called Field Notes for the Alpine Tundra. I just love the title. The poems were written when she was sort of the writer-in-residence during a research trip in Yukon in the Ruby Range Mountains, which are beyond the Arctic Circle in the tundra.

There's a relationship between the form of the book, the form of the individual poems and this barrenness or sparseness of that alpine landscape.- Randy Lundy

"It's a really thin book. It only runs about 27 pages of poetry and the poems are quite small as well. She spent some weeks up there looking and writing about the kinds of things that she saw. There's a relationship between the form of the book, the form of the individual poems and this barrenness or sparseness of that alpine landscape."

Dissolve by Sherwin Bitsui

Poet Sherwin Bitsui is a Diné (Navajo) from the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. (Copper Canyon Press, Blue Flower Arts)

"This is a challenging read. He often makes reference to the then and the now. He was born in Arizona, he's Navajo and lives in Santa Fe these days. I've read in interviews that he says he does his best thinking when he's in transit between Santa Fe, where he now lives, and his home reservation.

There's a lot of violence, alcohol, pills, syringes, police sirens and so on. But at other times there's that southwestern landscape and culture that he comes from and is attached to.- Randy Lundy

"It's a really distinctive voice. There's a lot of violence, alcohol, pills, syringes, police sirens and so on. But at other times there's that southwestern landscape and culture that he comes from and is attached to. So there's mountains and desert and desert plants and animals and horses. He's got a singular and distinctive voice."

Randy Lundy's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.