Robert Pepper-Smith is one of two writers who will read from their work in the Vancouver Island University cabin built by students in log house building courses offered by the Forestry Department in the 1980s.

Robert Pepper-Smith is one of two writers who will read from their work in the Vancouver Island University cabin built by students in log house building courses offered by the Forestry Department in the 1980s.

Setting adds atmosphere to readings on campus

Robert Pepper-Smith and Harold Rhenisch will provide a mix of poetry, magic and spells at Vancouver Island University

Robert Pepper-Smith and Harold Rhenisch will provide a mix of poetry, magic and spells at Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus Jan. 19.

Pepper-Smith, who teaches philosophy at VIU, is the author of Six Stories, The Wheel Keeper and a new novel, House of Spells.  House of Spells is the second installment in a trilogy that has been set in a fictional region of southeastern B.C.

“Some readers will recognize landmarks similar to those in the Kootenay Valley, south of Revelstoke, but it’s a fictional landscape,” Pepper-Smith said.

He finds it fitting that he and Rhenisch will be reading in a hillside cabin tucked into a glade of trees on campus. The cabin, built with the support of forest industry donors, is a legacy from students and instructors in log house building courses in the 1980s and is regularly used as a classroom.

“It’s a magical setting so it’s quite appropriate,” Pepper-Smith said. “There’s a sense of enchantment in the book.”

Rhenisch, a poet, literary essayist and blogger based in Vernon, taught poetry and short fiction at VIU. His most recent books are an environmental volume, Motherstone: British Columbia’s Volcanic Plateau, and The Spoken World, a collection of poems inspired by the poet Robin Skelton.

The Spoken World celebrates the lyrical and spell-making tradition of poetry that has come to us through Old Norse, through Rhenisch’s relationship with Robin Skelton, a mentor who continues to be a guiding force long after his death. Skelton spent 30 years exploring a lyrical tradition that married the best of American and English traditions. For decades, Rhenisch has built on Skelton’s spell-making to advocate a return to poetry that is a wisdom path.

The readings, presented by Poets on Campus, will be in the log cabin, blg. 365, at 7 p.m. Use entrance 5G, off Fifth Street, for best access.