Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)

Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)

Former Nanaimo poet laureate revisits past poems in latest collection

Gabriola Island’s Naomi Beth Wakan presents career-spanning ‘Wind on the Heath’

While assembling her latest book of poetry, Naomi Beth Wakan has been rediscovering forgotten poems dating back half a century.

The Gabriola Island resident has released her latest collection of poems, the career-spanning Wind on the Heath. Wakan estimates a third of the book is dedicated to her Japanese tanka and haiku poems, a focus of hers for the last 20 years. The book also covers Wakan’s tenure as Nanaimo’s inaugural poet laureate and features older works that are only now seeing the light of day.

“Those early poems from my first marriage, they’re not published,” Wakan said. “This is the first time they’ve been published. They surprised me as I’d forgotten I’d written any at that time and it was as if I was reading a stranger’s work but somehow they were vaguely familiar.”

The book also marks Wakan’s 90th year, and she’s thankful to those who have been helpful and supportive throughout her decades writing poetry, including David Fraser of Nanaimo’s Wordstorm Society of the Arts, Planet Earth Poetry in Victoria and Hilary Peach, organizer of the Poetry Gabriola Festival.

“These people are so important to poets because we have so few outlets and they give us so much encouragement,” Wakan said.

She’s also grateful for the Vancouver Island Regional Library – “without whom I would have been totally lost” – and Nanaimo’s culture and heritage coordinator Chris Barfoot, who helped her during her time as poet laureate.

When selecting poems for Wind on the Heath, Wakan said she chose popular poems that she felt people would expect her to include in the collection, as well as pieces that she thought “still held up.” While a few are more than a page long, she said “if you can describe the universe in a three-line haiku, you can say everything you need to say in a one-page poem.” In her work, Wakan said she aims to dignify the ordinary.

“I write domestic stuff. I don’t write a lot of political protest. I try to make the everyday hallowed. I’m not religious but I try to show the importance of the everyday thing,” she said.

The poems are presented in chronological order, and although some were written decades apart Wakan said there is a consistency between the old and the new.

“Oddly enough, I haven’t seemed to mature that much,” Wakan said. “I’m still that eight-year-old child asking those impossible-to-be-answered questions like ‘why is there something instead of nothing?’ and ‘why is there good and bad?’”

Wind on the Heath is available at Vancouver Island Regional Library, the bookstore at Page’s Resort and Marina, 3350 Coast Rd., Gabriola Island, and online.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Literature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed Harbour Air and Air Canada flights to and from Nanaimo, from April 3, 4 and 12, on its list of flights with COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported for Air Canada, Harbour Air flights, says disease control centre

Nanaimo flights for April 3, 4 and 12 listed on BCCDC’s list of flights with COVID-19

Rebates through Clean B.C.’s Better Homes New Construction program are available, says the City of Nanaimo. (Vancouver Island University photo)
Energy-efficient home builds in Nanaimo eligible for up to $15K in rebates

All building permits issued on, or after, April 1, 2020 eligible, says City of Nanaimo

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Heidi Sinclair, executive director of Nanaimo Community Kitchens, left, accepts a $13,500 donation from 100-plus Women Who Care Mid Island, represented by Nahanni Ackroyd and Shannon Gorgichuk. (Photo submitted)
Caring women in Nanaimo give generously to community kitchen society

100-plus Women Who Care Mid Island donate $13,500 to Nanaimo Community Kitchens Society

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
UPDATE: Another COVID-19 case found as part of NRGH outbreak

Four patients tested positive for the virus in NRGH’s high-intensity rehab unit

Noel Brown, Snuneymuxw First Nation carver, observes the house post he carved, which now is situated in front of the Kw’umut Lelum centre on Centre Street in Nanaimo. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
House post representative of work of Kw’umut Lelum in Nanaimo

Snuneymuxw First Nation artist Noel Brown’s carved red cedar house post unveiled Friday, April 16

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read