The Life and Breath of the World

Michael Hayward

Co-edited by Trevor Carolan and Frank Stewart, Cascadia: The Life and Breath of the World (University of Hawai’i Press) is a collection of pieces—the table of contents groups them into Essay, Fiction, Oratory, Poetry and Memoir—that “help us to address the bio-cultural region called Cascadia,” a region described on the cover as “stretching in a great arc from Southeast Alaska to Cape Mendocino, California.” Cascadia is filled with evidence of the heightened awareness of “place” that can come to those who follow Gary Snyder’s injunction to “Find your place on the planet and dig in”; reading Cascadia confirms the arbitrary nature of political boundaries: those who share a watershed are connected in ways that transcend politics. There are some wonderful pieces here: a poem by Susan Musgrave titled “The Sex Life of Sand”; “In the Great Bend of the Souris River,” a short story from Barry Lopez; Theresa Kishkan’s essay “Marine Air: Thinking About Fish, Weather, and Coastal Stories,” which begins with a visit to the cabin on Oyster Bay on the Sechelt Peninsula where Elizabeth Smart wrote her modernist masterpiece By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, then segues into a meditation on the salmon that spawn in the stream feeding that estuary. My one complaint about the anthology—and it’s a minor one—is that it would have been nice to have a detailed list of the original sources; many—most?—of the pieces collected here have been published before. Still, I’m pleased to have them all gathered between the same covers.

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