“The North”

A Poem by Karen Solie

July 8, 2020  By Karen Solie

Where should we find consolation,
dwelling in the north? Amid the stunted
desperate plant life clinging
to its edges, thriving on atmospheric
vengeance or neglect? Of two moods,
fragile and invasive, it gazes out to sea

as its character bends inland.
And why defend our poignant attempts
at agriculture, the gall
of our entrepreneurs? The defining
mid-winter pageants performed
in a somnolent rage? The leisure class

commends the virtues of hard work
above all else, and we labour under
frost-cramped statutes, the black
letters of legislation, in hog-reek
and land-driven slag, middle-aged
from birth and, given our devotion

to slandering this place, illogically
xenophobic. We could as soon move
south as rise above it. Are sympathies
inseparable from what one does
to stay alive? What is a self
but that which fights the cold?



The Caiplie Caves by Karen Solie is available via FSG.

Karen Solie
Karen Solie
Karen Solie was born in Moose Jaw and grew up in southwest Saskatchewan, Canada. She is the author of poetry collections including Short Haul Engine, Pigeon, and The Living Option. Her work has won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, the Pat Lowther Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Latner Poetry Prize, and the Canada Council for the Arts Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award. Solie has taught in writing programs and at universities across Canada and in the United Kingdom. An associate director for the Banff Centre's Writing Studio program, she lives in Toronto.

More Story
Kate Messner on How Picture Books Provide a Sense of Comfort and Normalcy NewberyTart is a podcast about kids’ books, for adults, and is recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, by two friends who approach...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.