Low Water Slack by Tim BowlingLow Water Slack by Tim Bowling

Low Water Slack

byTim Bowling

Paperback | January 1, 1995

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In the language of the Fraser River fishermen, "low water slack" is that particular tide when everything slows down: the wind, the river, even the human heartbeat. It is a time to reflect, to count the stars in Orion's belt, to listen for the slow creak of the heron's wings. During low water slack, the challenges of life on the river give way to something much deeper, and the fishermen find themselves in a world so calm and beautiful that the very water beneath them seems a hushed breath.

At once historical and intensely personal, Low Water Slack takes the reader into a vibrant world populated with such characters as a ghost of a nineteeth-century salmon canner and an 800-pound white sturgeon. Here are infamous moments of BC's past (the Hell's Gate disaster, the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War Two) alongside childhood memories of a first kiss and meditations on the future of West Coast fish stocks. And moving like a quick shadow throughout is the Pacific salmon itself, whose life cycle mirrors and guides the poet's own exploration of mortality.
Tim Bowling has published numerous poetry collections, including Low Water Slack; Dying Scarlet (winner of the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry); Darkness and Silence (winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry); The Witness Ghost and The Memory Orchard (both nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award);...
Title:Low Water SlackFormat:PaperbackDimensions:80 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.24 inPublished:January 1, 1995Publisher:Nightwood EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889711615

ISBN - 13:9780889711617

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from A small epic Low Water Slack is a marvellous, magnificent modern Works and Days of the Fraser Delta gill netter family. Vivid, moving, sonorous and timelessly human.
Date published: 2011-03-20

Read from the Book

SmokehouseMy first real kiss tasted of burnt chinookand cherrywood. I won it in a smokehouseon the banks of the Fraser River, cica 1975.When I stepped out of that narrow darkness,the scent of summer's spent desire on my skin,October threw my shadow farther than I'd everthrown a stone; I could not see the far bankof my own body, I could not hear my sensessplash on the other side. Along the fence,the tall corn whispered secrets, and a cat'seyes swallowed a robin whose heart thrummedthunder from a distant rooftop. Was anothershadow running an arm to soreness in the grass?I did not look. My eyes had dropped like stonesinto the river, and the current pulled them deep.Soemwhere up the valley, wind flayed the fleshof salmon hung in the rocks, dried it to ribbonspink enough for a schoolgirl's hair. Tongueswould tease it for flavour in another season,and go silent in the tasting. But that day,the clouds poured east in a rich smoke, fasterand faster, hunger of the earth for heaven,hunger of the air for blood, hunger of the bloodfor burning. Now, I stay my arm to listen.These words step out of a high dark,and there's fury in their swimming.Steelhead, SpawningWhat we dreamed of when young, but never foundcomes in with the tide tonight. What we loved,but lacked the will to pursue, moves swiftlyin the mouth. Beautiful ghost, blushingin the gills, the saltmarsh sighs to seeyour rare body beacon the night. What havewe done to yesterday? The river flexes itslast wild muscle, strong and sure. Castsits bright hook in our sleep, and pulls.While we rise to the unbreathable elementof loss again.

Table of Contents

Ladner / 9
The Tinsmith / 13
Hell's Gate: 1913 / 17
West Coast Winter: 1942 / 19
1958 / 21
The Photograph / 22
After Proust / 25
Taking Tea to my Father / 28
Second Home / 29
Strike / 30
Old Fishermen: 1973 / 31

Sockeye Salmon / 33
Dog Salmon / 34
Jack Spring / 35
Steelhead, Spawning / 37
Dolly Varden / 38
Sturgeon / 39
Oolichan / 42
Bullhead / 43
The Last Sockeye / 45
Poker / 47
Midnight / 48
Young Eagle on a Piling / 49
Canoe Pass / 51

Aprons / 53
Skullcaps / 54
Gumboots / 55
Gaff-hooks / 56
Tidebook / Fishbook / 57
Smokehouse / 58
After Learning my Girlfriend might be Pregnant / 59
Looking Home, Sad as the Rain / 61
Tides (a Poem to Myself) / 63
For an Unidentified Body Found Floating in the Fraser River / 65
Rivermouth / 66
Westham Island / 67
On the Disappearance of Two Million Sockeye Salmon / 68
A Postcard from British Columbia to Newfoundland / 69
Desire / 71
Sunset: Ladner Harbour / 73
Fall Fishing / 74
Gutting / 77
Winter / 79

Editorial Reviews

"His poems have an emotional intensity that brought lumps to my throat. There is a resolve, a high moral purpose to everything he is doing here, coupled with a compelling melancholy and an astounding level of artistry. With his grasp of the human condition and his lyric gifts, Bowling has the tools to become not just a good poet, but a great one. Low Water Slack (that particular tide when everything slows down, leaving time to reflect) went into second printing in less than a year, suggesting someone besides poets are buying it."-Pat Jasper, Arc