Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times, edited by Catriona Sandilands

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In the introduction to Rising Tides, Sandilands states that climate change stories “focus increasingly on thornier questions of persistence, adaptation, resistance, and renewal” instead of apocalypse. Ultimately, the short fiction, poetry and personal climate testimonies in this climate change anthology are about hope.

“The way rain falls the spring of life seed to root, stem to leaves. Oh trees, weather maker, life shaper, air sweet. Language of snail, moss lichen. Everything returns …” The intricate simplicity and beauty of Hiromi Goto’s language in ‘This is the Way’ particularly resonated with me, reinforcing one of the anthology’s messages to observe and listen to the change around us.

The writers are uniquely and intensely involved with the environment as storytellers, activists, researchers, teachers and passionate observers. Many are Indigenous, people deeply bonded to the land that is changing beneath them. These relationships enhance the authenticity and rawness of the anthology.

“Ultimately, the short fiction, poetry and personal climate testimonies in this climate change anthology are about hope.”

Some of the narratives reflect on the disappearance of small, known species, many of which pass unnoticed. In ‘Absence’ (Elysia French), a child asks if a dead bee had a family. The child’s aunt asks, “What did the death of this singular bee mean for her colony and for the human and non-human networks it supported? In ‘Five Ways to Talk about Twisted Oak Moss’ (Holly Schofield), the narrator seeks a vanishing species and asks what effect it will have if it disappears. She states, “We simply don’t know. When we decide we do need to listen to twisted oak moss, will it still be here?”

Water in its many forms is a common theme. Jamie Snook, in ‘Futures on Ice’, writes how his community in southern Labrador can no longer rely on generations of knowledge to cross winter ice. “Thoughts continually run through our minds about the safety and the thickness, the conditions and quality of the ice we are crossing, knowing what can happen if we have misread the conditions. But the ice also brings a sense of awe. And the ice brings us to places that we love, and every year we hope for good ice–ice the way it has always been.”

“Rising Tide’s power is in the rereading and reflecting on the messages within.”

I read this book while the COVID-19 epidemic was/is raging through the world. It was impossible not to intertwine these two challenges in my mind. An editorial in The Narwhal magazine recently stated, “The story of COVID-19 is at its core, a story of humanity’s ever-encroaching relationship with all other living things on this planet.” The same is true of climate change. The contributors to Rising Tides question, provoke, express personal emotion and invite change. What transpires in the future depends on us.

In ‘All Our Relations: Climate Change Storytellers’, Deborah McGregor and Hillary McGregor say we need to “act on the stories being told by the earth.”

These are not stories to be consumed at one sitting. Rising Tide’s power is in the rereading and reflecting on the messages within.

Contributors include: Catriona Sandilands (editor and writer), Carleigh Baker, Stephen Collis, Ashlee Cunsolo, Ann Eriksson, Rosemary Georgeson, Hiromi Goto, Laurie D. Graham, David Huebert, Sonnet L’Abbé, Timothy Leduc, Christine Lowther, Kyo Maclear, Emily McGiffin, Deborah McGregor, Philip Kevin Paul, Richard Pickard, Holly Schofield, Betsy Warland, Evelyn White, Rita Wong and many more.

Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times, edited by Catriona Sandilands
Caitlin Press

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About the author

About the Reviewer: Patricia Sandberg escaped a law career and became a writer. Her short stories have been shortlisted in competitions, published at The Cabinet of Heed and in the Lit Mag Love Anthology. She is hard at work on a World War I historical novel. Her 2016 award-winning, nonfiction book Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines, a Canadian Story is about life in a uranium mine in northern Canada during the height of the Cold War.

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