Worth More Standing: Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees, Edited by Christine Lowther

Worth More Standing: Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees is an ode to the beauty of trees, a lament for what humans are doing to the planet, and a song of defiance. The poems in this collection articulate our sisterhood with trees and other living things, as well as capturing the beauty and mystery of trees and forests. Most of the poems are free verse, but the collection also includes haiku sequences, senryu, prose poems, a few rhyming ventures, and even an abecedarian. The variety of styles keeps things interesting.

The book is divided into four sections: Connection, Ecology, Grief, and Protection. The poems in the first two sections are, as a whole, more light-hearted than those in the latter two portions, though not universally so.

The collection includes many beautiful and evocative entries. Among them are “Forest Man” by Lauren Camp, which begins:

The forest stands at the door, a lone man in a light
green shirt. A Saw-whet sits in his hat, confessing
simple hymns that are scarfed into clouds . . .

“Treeforce” by Joanna Streetly includes the lines

new moon pulls the tide out like a drawer
high in the canopy, wind from the west
kitten-paw branches swat sunrays tree to tree
throw, catch, devour, inhale holy food: light

Then there’s “Windrush” by Danial Neil:

And the warm-sweater feel of it
when the day drains into the western vats
and the copper gloaming
creeps up the cedar trunks

In the “Grief” section, the tone changes. In “The Sacred Grove,” John Reibetanz states

 . . . we bulldoze forests to stuff
our maw with everything from oil
and beef to aphrodisiacs
oblivious to woodland lives
(not mythical but real) of winged
and web-footed creatures . . .

In “Tree Burial,” Dianna MacKinnon Henning notes, “Already my bones are breaking for our trees—how / they drop, their branches ripped free—” “VII The Kingdom and the Greed,” Murray Mann writes:

Tree sorrow sings low frequency—
this watery song.
Death song of spruce, pine, fir.
But we feel it.
This slow dying.
All the tears of the earth
are gathered in this reservoir.

In the “Protection” section, writers talk about protests large and small, and about group and individual actions. “Breath Work” by Kim Goldberg begins:

We tied our hearts to a chain-link fence
while the lungs of the planet were ripped from
the breast and dropped onto trucks, boxcars
freighters from far away

The collection ends with a fitting finale. In “Coyote at the Movies” by Tim McNulty, Coyote runs a film of woodcutting for a new subdivision backwards, creating ironic and humorous images: “ . . . if everyone watched closely, they could see them placing all the limbs and branches back onto the broken trees. Amazing!” “Coyote at the Movies” is simultaneously sad, ironic, and hilarious, and the poem ends with a hopeful note.

Worth More Standing is a substantial work. The collection includes 161 poems within its 240 pages, so there’s plenty of bang for your buck. It’s a work sure to resonate with nature lovers, particularly those who appreciate the beauty and mystery of trees. As Joy Kogawa says in “Dear Cherry Tree,” “I pray that, despite all the evidence, we who love trees will prevail.”

Christine Lowther has been a lifelong activist and a resident of Clayoquot Sound since 1992. She is the author of three books of poetry, New Power (Broken Jaw Press, 1999), My Nature (Leaf Press, 2010), and Half-Blood Poems (Zossima Press, 2011). Her memoir, Born Out of This (Caitlin Press, 2014), was a finalist for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize at the 2015 BC Book Prizes. Christine co-edited two collections of essays, Writing the West Coast: In Love with Place (Ronsdale Press, 2008) and Living Artfully: Reflections from the Far West Coast (The Key Publishing House, 2012). Recipient of the inaugural Rainy Coast Arts Award for Significant Accomplishment in 2014, Chris served as Tofino Poet Laureate 2020-2022.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Caitlin Press (April 22 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 192 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1773860828
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1773860824

 -- Website

Lisa Timpf is a retired HR and communications professional who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. Her writing has appeared in New Myths, Star*Line, The Future Fire, Triangulation: Habitats, and other venues. Lisa’s speculative haibun collection, In Days to Come, is available from Hiraeth Publishing. You can find out more about Lisa’s writing at http://lisatimpf.blogspot.com/.