Better Nature by Fenn Stewart


Better Nature by Fenn Stewart


Much of the language that makes up Better Nature—the first poetry collection by writer and academic Fenn Stewart—is drawn from a diary that Walt Whitman wrote while travelling through Canada at the end of the nineteenth century.

But rather than waxing poetic about the untouched Great White North, Stewart inlays found materials (early settler archives, news stories, email spam, fundraising for environmental NGOs, and more) to present a unique view of Canada’s “pioneering” attitude towards “wilderness”—one that considers deeper issues of the settler appropriation of Indigenous lands, the notion of terra nullius, and the strategies and techniques used to produce a “better nature” (that is, one that better serves the nation).


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Praise for Better Nature:

“With linguistic fervor, dancing intellect, and blissful urgency Stewart unveils the seemingly everyday horrors of our cruelly optimistic (would be) unsettling lands.”
–Liz Howard, Griffin Poetry Prize-winning author of Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent

“The specter of Walt Whitman haunts Fenn Stewart’s mesmeric debut, Better Nature. Stewart’s lyric research into the settler-imaginary via the language and grammar of colonialism and the problem of how to prick it and pop it leads her to “loveliest of Vegitables,” to “interesting cataracts,” and to the songs of  “the sweetest traitors”—like Whitman himself. These vibrant, looping poems call on readers to wander through error as Stewart exposes the colonial hankerings that underpin the vocabularies of natural science, of romantic poetry, of the confession. Nobody is off the hook: not reader, not writer. Stewart is a riveting poet unafraid to cut directly to our most urgent mess and to insist that the reader do something about it beyond the page.” –Shannon Maguire, author of fur(l) parachute and Myrmurs

Press Coverage for Better Nature:

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2017 Poetry Preview —49th Shelf

Fenn Stewart lives in Vancouver, where she teaches literature, writing, and research. Her poetry has appeared in The Capilano Review, Open Letter, The Arcadia Project, and in the form of three chapbooks, An OK Organ Man (shortlisted for the 2013 bpNichol Chapbook Award), Vegetable Inventory, and from Waltzing. Her research on Canadian culture and literature has appeared in various journals, including ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature and Law, Culture, and the Humanities. Better Nature is Stewart’s first book of poetry.

September 18, 2017 | Poetry
8.5×5.5 inches | 112 pages
Condition: New
ISBN 9781771663380


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