Poems for the Pacific

Edited by Yvonne Blomer

Categories: Anthology, Poetry
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781987915532, 200 pages, September 2017


New poetry written by prize-winning BC poets, musicians, and artists such as Bruce Cockburn, Brian Brett and Lorna Crozier, anthologized by Victoria's city poet-laureate. While in the world of politics there are still climate change deniers, the poets watch the warming seas, the dying birds slicked in oil, the whales, the jellies, the sea otters and the octopus. They stand, as close to the shore as possible, watch the slow turning tide. In this collection of poems from the coast of B.C., California, Washington State, to Alaska and as far away as Auckland, New Zealand and as far back as early 19th century Japan these poems explore our connection to the Pacific, what we know and don't know, how we've already changed the shore and the sea and what we fear losing.

Poets in this anthology include John Barton, Brian Brett, Bruce Cockburn, Lorna Crozier, Brenda Hillman, Gary Geddes, Steven Heighton, Patrick Lane, Arleen Paré, Melanie Siebert, Ann Simpson, Rob Taylor, Patricia Young, Jan Zwicky and many more.

In Refugium, editor Yvonne Blomer explores her deep concern with our sixth extinction and how stoic humans are continuing to wreak damage on the planet and her oceans.


Refugium performs a kind of eco-location, searching for home in the wreckage, sounding out a marinium that is receding both from itself and from us, the prodigal children of the Anthropocene. Many-tentacled, this collection reaches into various aesthetic registers and gathers a range of sophisticated voices to create a whole that is, like the ocean itself, at once a single entity and a multitude.”

— Sue Sinclair, author of Heaven’s Thieves, (Brick Books), winner of the 2017 Pat Lowther Memorial Award

“[Refugium] is deep and wide and contains wonderful work written […] assign this as part of a class on contemporary Canadian poetry, such is its range of writers. An anthology around a conceit or a theme doesn’t always work, but this one feels focused and taut, even though there is plenty of it: eighty-three poems, many fairly long. It makes a political and poetical and common sense-case for not exploiting the natural world, a case made through accretion and good editing – that is to say, lightly but strongly.”

University of Toronto Quarterly, 88.3 (Summer 2019)

“Like the ocean, Refugium pushes and pulls us, comforts and terrifies us, in poems that are playful, grief-stricken, awe-struck, hopeful, condemnatory, speculative, historical, personal. But the undercurrent is all of love.”

— Amy Reiswig, Focus on Victoria