I had the good fortune to travel to Quadra Island for a Saturday, 21, October, 2023 reading of The Ridge, the new long poem by Robert Bringhurst. To see Robert in his small town setting was an incredibly rare experience. To know the event was benefiting Sierra Quadra was a bonus. To interview Robert the following day about this remarkable long poem, ten years in the making and rich in history, natural science and local history was icing on the cake. These kinds of experiences are memorable and transformative and I am a fortunate individual who has had the grace to be able to attend events like this and get access to one of Cascadia’s most brilliant poetic minds.This interview will be presented in three parts.
In this first segment, he talks about how moving around a lot as a child made him appreciate setting down roots on Quadra Island, hiking Heriot Ridge and thinking about the fire on Quadra Island in 1925 that took out so many giant trees, but not all of them. He discussed attending M.I.T., studying with legendary Noam Chomsky and his interest in Indigenous cultures. My introduction:
The Ridge is a poem in 20 parts, a meditation on a geological feature of Quadra Island, a large island in British Columbia, just north of the Strait of Georgia, and thus the Salish Sea. But the poem is also a meditation on what’s happening on the island and on the planet we share in what’s been described as devastating imagery. I would add that it’s a meditation on the human species as well, at this time in the early Anthropocene.
Robert Bringhurst is the author. Trained initially in the sciences at MIT, he makes his life in the humanities from his home on Quadra Island, where he’s worked in poetry, Native American linguistics and typography. An officer of the Order of Canada, former Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the Governor General’s Award for Literary Excellence. He’s our guest today to talk about The Ridge. Robert, thanks for your time and hospitality.