Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tuesday Poem: Clare Pollard, Penelope to Ulysses

Penelope to Ulysses

Dear Ulysses,

you’re late.

Don’t worry about answering, just come home.
The enemy of Grecian wives has fallen,
but, honestly, Troy wasn’t worth it.

If only Paris had drowned
in some storm when he was heading for Sparta,
I wouldn’t lie frigid in my bed
or have to moan of tedious days
or pass my nights like some poor widow
at the loom’s dull web. . . . . [Read On] 

From Ovid's Heroines by Clare Pollard
Published by Bloodaxe Books

This is an extract from Penelope’s letter to Ulysses, one of Ovid’s Heroides, translated by Clare Pollard as Ovid’s Heroines. With this letter, Ovid puts a different perspective on Homer’s The Odyssey. The Trojan War has long been over, but the Greek war hero Ulysses has not returned to his wife Penelope in Ithaca. Whilst those who have read Homer will know this is because he has been waylaid by obstacles that include gods, monsters, weather and the sorceress Circe, Penelope has heard nothing. Their son Telemachus has just returned from a fruitless trip to Pylos, where he was trying to find out what has happened to his father and was almost killed.

You can read more about Clare’s book here, and follow her work via her website and on Twitter.

Thanks to Oxford Brookes University's Weekly Poem page for sharing this. 

The Tuesday Poets are an international group, originating in New Zealand, who try to post a poem every Tuesday and take it in turns to edit the main website.  If you'd like to see what the others are posting, please click here. 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Short Stories from A Flash in the Pen

I've been a member of the Authors Electric group since it was set up a little more than five years ago and I've really enjoyed being part of a very supportive collective. We blog once a month, mainly on things related to Indie authorship and we give each other advice and support in a secret Facebook group. It's a varied mix of writers - quite a lot of established authors with traditional publishing histories who have gone over to the Dark Side, but there are also others just dipping a pen in the inkpot for the first time.  There are children's authors, professional ghostwriters, travel writers, crime writers, playwrights, novelists and biographers - we're all represented.  About a year ago someone had the brilliant idea of bringing out a collective anthology of short fiction.  We all write short stories, but they're devilishly difficult to find outlets for these days, even though readers like them. So, here at last, is the result of our collaboration.

There is a wonderful mix of stories - as varied as their authors - and every one of them is honed to perfection. Twenty eight stories by twenty eight brilliant authors!  I can't mention any favourites or I risk being lynched, but I enjoyed them all. If you love short fiction, you'll find something to laugh or cry over in this book. It's only on Kindle at the moment, on offer for 99p, but the print edition is on the way and may arrive on Amazon at any moment.

My own contribution is called 'Serious Music', about an affair with a  musician that doesn't go according to plan.  It begins like this . . .

I should have been glad to come, he said, privileged to hear such great musicians,  as if  Berlin in late November was the most desirable location in the world. And not even a good venue - just a shabby little theatre near Alexander Platz in what used to be the eastern sector.

Don’t let anyone fool you. The wall may have come down, but the two cities still exist, facing each other over the cranes and bulldozers – functional socialist architecture in the east, funky, space-age extravaganza in the west. The people are similarly divided – resentment and reserve on the one hand,  wariness and blame on the other —  an east and west of the psyche. I hadn’t been there more than a day, but I’d worked out that  Berlin is still a city of extremes. Old Europe – New Europe. It seemed fitting for the situation I was in.

Perhaps I should explain that I’m English and Piotr is not. He comes from the Czech Republic and we met at an arts centre in Twickenham where I was working as an arts officer and he was playing with a group called ‘Strings On Fire’. Piotr’s tall, dark and thin and plays the violin like a whirling dervish on steroids. I’ve loved him ever since I heard him put bow to string and over the past few months we’ve conducted an intense, though peripatetic, affair. It’s hard to have a relationship across Europe with an itinerant musician. Emails and text messages are no substitute for physical contact. So, when he emailed me to say he was playing at the Berlin jazz festival I went straight onto the Internet and booked a cheap  flight. . . 

A Flash in the Pen from Authors Electric
99p on Amazon

Friday, 26 June 2015

Italy at last!

So, now I've landed back in Italy and been reunited with my Man and looking forward to some much needed R & R after so much travelling. Ironically, I've been laid low by a tummy bug - the first since I left England 5 weeks ago and I've been half way round the world, so count myself lucky.  

Neil's been busy while I've been away with three new pieces of sculpture to show;  one just a gesso, one finished marble piece and one in progress.

This one's called 'Family Group' and definitely my favourite.

This one's now finished - carved in marble and looks fantastic. 

Still in progress

Here in Italy the news is all about immigration. Everyone is discussing it, which isn't surprising, as the results of the crisis are visible on every Italian street. The casualties of economic chaos, famine and war wash up in their thousands on Italy's shores every week, and Matteo Renzi is right to talk tough to other European leaders - this is everyone's problem and wealthy countries can't just close their doors and carry on partying.

When I was in New Zealand last year, there was a great bit of graffiti on the wall of a compost toilet out in the back blocks. "One day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich."  Be afraid, Cameron, Merkel et al.  Be very afraid!


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Tuesday Poem: D'Zonoqua

[For Emily Carr]

4. D'Zonoqua

It is your own life
you find there
among the rotting board-walks
and roofless houses
the feral cats that shared your supper
the eternal rain dripping onto canvas.

But, stumbling through nettles
ruin and undergrowth, you can’t avoid
the carved eyes of D’Zonoqua –

a bird nesting in her mouth
snakes in her hair, her lips
stained with the blood of children
the one who gives and takes away –

that fierce wild woman of the forest
a pillar of fear and longing
whose deep gaze follows you far out to sea
burning a pathway to the horizon’.

© Kathleen Jones 2015
[All quotes taken from “Klee Wyck” by Emily Carr, Author and Artist, 1941, BC, Canada]
D'Zonoqua - Alert Bay
D'Zonoqua (sometimes D'Zunuqua) is an important figure in the mythology of the First Nation people of British Columbia, Canada.  She made a big impression on painter Emily Carr, who encountered the carved figure in the forest behind one of the abandoned villages she visited.  Emily feared it, but was also drawn to it.  D'Zonoqua is the wild woman of the forest, a figure of fear but also of empowerment.  She is possibly rather like the Indian goddess Kali.
D'Sonoqua mask
I met my first D'Zonoqua in the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver.  They had a display of feasting dishes carved in the shapes of reclining women, with lids carved with the face of D'Zonoqua. The men would eat from her body, which seems to have had ritual significance in a matrilinear society.
D'Sonoqua feasting dish
Then, in Alert Bay, where Emily Carr had her unnerving encounter, I also met my first D'Zonoqua totem.  She is black and fearsome and embodies everything I try not to look at in my own female nature - the wild, creative energy that is inside us.  What might women do, if they weren't constrained by some social notions of femininity? Sometimes I terrify myself, when I look at what's inside me.
D'Sonoqua dish and masks being displayed by the Kwak'waka'wakw people.
The poem above is part of a series of poems about the life of Emily Carr, who defied convention and spent a large part of her life travelling to the remote villages of the First Nation people of British Columbia, to paint the ruins of their culture, during the first decades of the twentieth century.  I love her work, but I also love the journals and letters and fragments of autobiography that inspired these poems.  If you want to read the rest, you will have to buy the latest copy of Earthlines - a wonderful magazine publishing 'eco-literature' - beautiful, thought provoking prose and poetry accompanied by wonderful images.

The Tuesday poets are an international group who try to post a poem every Tuesday and take it in turns to edit the Hub.  If you'd like to see what the others are posting, click on this link.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Museum of Objects

'Who wouldn't ride a time machine given the opportunity?  Objects from the past can perform this function, as long as the passenger in these time machines has imagination and a desire to learn. Every object tells a story,' says the catalogue and this collection is certainly full of narratives.  I couldn't resist this exhibition when I was passing through London, recommended by a writer friend.
Seemingly random juxtapositions
Art dealer Oliver Hoare described it as his 'cabinet of curiosities'; the beautiful, the bizarre and the wonderful, in a private house rather than a museum. The elegant house in Fitzroy Square, once home to the Omega workshop, has no advertising outside at all.  You have to go up to the plain door of number 33 and ring the bell.  When it opens you are taken inside, treated like a very special guest, given a catalogue and let loose in the beautiful rooms to wander as you please, to sit on the big sofas and let your imagination run wild.

Every object was special and had its own history, but there were certain ones that kept me coming back to stare at them.  I loved the gigantic Tibetan drum hung from the ceiling, next to Picasso's Guitar.

Picasso's Guitar started out in Peru and had a story that I almost didn't believe.

Then there was the collection of erotic Scrimshaw; the work of shipbound, sex-starved whalers, often at sea for a year or more.

A wonderful collection of ivory and wooden phalluses. Some of them were ritualistic, taken from Tibetan temples, others had more personal uses.  Whaler's wives were often known to have them hidden when their husbands were away;  some were used by 'ladies of the night'.  Frankly I thought they looked rather uncomfortable!

I loved the Inuit baby blanket made from the down of Eider ducks.  Apparently the Eider would nest within Inuit communities for protection from predators and people believed that the birds left the down in their nests as a reward.  The skill that turned the down into fabric to wrap a baby has, apparently been lost now.

Vanished like the Dodo - whose bronze skeleton stands in one of the windows.

Some of the juxtapositions are thought provoking.  There is a sword that belonged to one of the guards of the Archduke of Austria, which lies on a sideboard next to the 1st century BC amputated marble foot of the Emperor Augustus.

One of my favourite exhibits was the book of poetry from 16th century Afghanistan, beautifully written and illuminated, that reminds us that this is a country with a long and distinguished cultural history.

Sadly, my photo of  the 12th century Iranian 'Mirror of the Soul' didn't come out.  It was copper, polished and beaten and then inscribed with words and came from the mystical concept that 'part of the human being could be polished by certain spiritual practices to the point that it could reflect a higher reality.'  The idea came from China, but became an important symbol in Islamic literature.

The Museum of Objects is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking exhibitions I've been to for a long time. It reminded me of Orhan Pamuk's project 'The Museum of Innocence' and the book he wrote about it called 'The Innocence of Objects'. He bought a house, which he made the setting for a novel and filled the house with the objects relating to the story and the characters.  It is now a museum in Istanbul.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Too debauched for Byron

Wednesday. So, the suitcase has been unpacked, the clothes washed, and then put back in the suitcase for yet another episode of my crazy life.  I arrived home on Sunday night and have just had time to clear the dining table of mail, neatly arranged by my kind neighbour, admire the weeds growing thigh-high in the garden (good for the wildlife!) had breakfast at 4am, fell asleep on the computer keyboard at 2pm (jet-lag), and somehow coped with all the other inconveniences of time travel.  The peace and calm of Haida Gwaii has been exchanged for the stress of 21st century, first world life and I'm definitely feeling the difference.

Thursday morning 7am and I'm on a train to London.  Since 2007 I've been fortunate enough to be a Royal Literary Fund Fellow and it is their support that has enabled me to go to Haida Gwaii.  Without the Fellowship, I wouldn't have been able to afford to go. Today I have to do a short presentation, for a group of new Fellows being 'inducted' into the job, and then attend the annual party. The RLF has been saving writers from the workhouse for over 200 years and the annual get-together - although once too debauched for Lord Byron (who refused the invitation)  - has become increasingly respectable since then.  Ladies were a late inclusion.  Apparently Charlotte Bronte liked to watch discreetly from the gallery as the invited male authors drank copious quantities of wine and port, while the ladies hidden above sipped their lemonade.
David Williams founded the RLF in 1790
Friday morning - Thankfully times have changed and last night writers of both sexes were able to quaff respectable vintages and tuck into a buffet that Lord Byron would have regretted missing. The company was lively but no debauchery was observed. The party continued in the hotel bar over the road afterwards.  I'm a little hungover but am meeting friends in London for lunch, so an industrial strength coffee is on the agenda.  Then, alas,  I have another flight to catch ...... 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Tuesday Poem: Pied Beauty, Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things -
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

I may not be able to share Hopkins' religious faith, but very few poets express the ecstasy of the living earth as well as he does. Coming back from remote British Columbia I have been dazzled by it and I wanted to choose a poem that celebrates the amazing complexity of the natural world.
Skies of couple-colour  (photo Fr Silouan Thompson)

The Tuesday Poets are an international group who try to publish a poem every Tuesday, wherever they are in the world.  If you'd like to see what the others are posting, please click this link to the hub. 

Friday, 12 June 2015

Leaving Haida Gwaii

I've been staying in a Bear Hunting Lodge - except that it's under new management who are rather more bear friendly.  So it's not surprising that I bumped into a bear on an evening walk.  I took my picnic supper about an hour's walk up the coast, to the mouth of the Tlell river, and ate it sitting on a piece of driftwood in the dunes facing the sea.   As I turned around the spit to walk back along the river, I saw something move up the river bank into the trees which grow right down to the edge and thought it was a deer - there are a lot of them here and they're quite tame. Then I saw the tracks, coming from the dunes to the river, and realised that it was a bear.  He had probably been sitting in the dunes munching the wild strawberries that grow there while I was eating my supper! My only regret is that I didn't get a good look at him - still can't say that I've seen a bear.

The location of the lodge (called Haida House) is a small hamlet called Tlell - halfway down the east coast of Graham Island, where the Tlell river goes into the sea.  Tlell is quite remote - midway between Masset and Skidegate on the Yellowhead Highway (the only highway).  It's a beautiful place, and the staff are mainly Haida.  Allison, who serves us breakfast, brought her Haida ceremonial regalia in to show us.This consists of a woven spruce root hat and a button blanket. These have evolved from animal skin robes and are now traditionally black and red, decorated with buttons of mother of pearl or abalone.

Allison is Eagle clan, so her blanket has an eagle appliqued on the back.

Now is the sad part - because I have to leave and drive north to Masset where I'm catching a plane to Vancouver and then another to England.  It's so beautiful and so peaceful I'm really going to miss it.  I think I'm going to leave part of myself here - like scraps of wool on a barbed wire fence.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The lost villages - and people - of Haida Gwaii

The Haida refer to it as 'The Great Dying';  an epidemic of small pox, brought by the Europeans, that in 1862 wiped out whole communities, particularly on the southern islands of the Gwaii.  One of my goals in coming here was to try to get to some of these abandoned villages.  The southern part of Haida Gwaii is now a nature reserve and, apart from a small airstrip and village at the top of Moresby Island, is not inhabited at all.  I drove down the east coast of the northern island to the township of Skidegate and immediately started asking how I could get into the south.  The BandB I was staying in said that they were taking a group by boat the following day and would I like to join them?  Would I! The weather wasn't good, but it would have taken a small army to keep me from going!

We went out in a Zodiac, all kitted out in waterproofs and flotation jackets, with a Haida crew, for a ride that was about 2 hours or more south in the turbulent waters of Hecate Strait, heading for Skedans - whose Haida name is K'aanu.  So many people died here at one time that there was no one left to bury the dead and no one else dared approach the island in case of infection.  Even today, visitors to the island come across bones on the forest floor that have to be reverently covered over.

These villages are heritage sites and you can't go unaccompanied.  There are watchmen at every location - young people who volunteer for 2 week shifts, without any kind of mod cons, in a hut, to guard their history.  At Skedans it was two girls.  They said they weren't afraid of the bears or the storms, but had found the 'powerful energy' of the place very hard to get used to.
The Watch Hut with its radio mast
One of the Haida men who had come on the boat was the son of a hereditary chief of the clan and he told us his childhood memories and how his father had often brought him back there on camping trips, showing him the old places and telling him the stories of his clan.  He was able to tell us what each of the House Poles meant and who had lived in the various houses, now collapsed.
All that remains of one of the biggest houses which was called 'Sound of the Clouds Rowing Across the Sky'
The poles are all precarious and rotting now - the thought is that in 20 years none of them will be there, so I am very privileged to have seen them at all. The air was full of the sound of woodpeckers drilling the wood.
Toppling slowly
Jags told us that when he came with his father they often found caves where families had hidden their possessions, packed in cedar wood boxes, still intact, and once they had found a shaman's carved staff wedged in between rocks in the roof. All these objects are now in the  museum.

You can just make out the carving underneath the moss
The Haida survivors grouped together in smaller and smaller communities until only two main groups were left, at Masset and Skidegate on the north island.  By 1900 a population of almost 30,000 had been reduced to around 500.
On the beach at K'aanu
It was an exceptionally beautiful and lonely place.  I found it very moving, just to be there.  The return journey was more challenging - against a flood tide with a strong southerly wind in opposition. Arrived back in port wind-blown, wet, but strangely happy.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

On the Edge of the World

So, after driving for twenty odd kilometers on a dirt road and then walking some, I'm finally standing on The Edge of the World.  And this is what it looks like:

That's the Pacific ocean in front of me - the largest mass of water on the planet, and somewhere to the north of the picture is Alaska and the North Pole.  It doesn't get much wilder than this.

I'm on North Beach looking towards Rose Spit - the most northerly point of Haida Gwaii - the place where Raven discovered human beings hiding in a giant clam shell and tempted them out because he was bored and wanted something to play with.  Things have never been the same since!

Raven perching on the clam shell:  Bill Reid
It's a very long walk up North Beach to Rose Spit, and you can really only do it when the tide is low - 24 kilometers each way.  I was lucky enough to get a lift with one of the clam-diggers on the beach - a Haida fisherman called Randy driving a beat-up old pickup truck.
Randy, driving down North Beach to beat the tide.
I bounced around with the razor clams in the back.

He took me as far as he could go, driving on the beach with the tide coming in, and said I had about an hour to walk further up before he'd have to take me back.  It was wild and beautiful and I did a bit of beach combing before going back to the truck.
a crab arranging itself for the photograph

A deer's hoofprint in the sand
Randy was wearing a silver whale pendant as the mark of his clan group.
'I was born and raised here,' he said, making a gesture with his hand.  'This is my place.'
It was said simply, but it felt very powerful.  I wondered what it must feel like to belong somewhere in that way.  To look at a landscape and know that your ancestors have been there for ten thousand years, that all your stories are grounded in it, that everything you see has a meaning, explicitly for you.   We're such itinerants in Europe;  most of us have no idea what that kind of rootedness feels like.

It was difficult to leave the beach - the most truly wild place I've found since I arrived here.  Randy dropped me two or three kilometers from the road out and accelerated off to beat the tide and get his clams to market before they closed.

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Totems of Old Massett

Well, apart from sleeping in Margaret Atwood's bed and having my breakfast cooked for me, what I've really come to see here are the remnants of Haida culture at the northern end of the northernmost island.  The Haida seem to have been one of the most successful First Nation people in preserving their traditions, though it was touch and go - not long ago there were only 5 native Haida speakers left alive.  But Haida artists in particular have kept the artistic traditions going and are handing the skills down to younger generations.  One of them is Jim Hart, one of Canada's most distinguished artists, a descendant of the wonderful Haida sculptor Charles Edenshaw, and also a hereditary Haida chief.  Jim's son danced a traditional Haida dance at the opening of the  Emily Carr exhibition in London last year.  Jim is currently carving a new project, with his apprentices, here in Masset.  I couldn't photograph the work in progress, but I can let you see the massive cedar trunk waiting its turn on the banks of Masset inlet, underneath Jim's Eagle totem. The tree really is huge - almost as wide as I'm tall.

Once, the whole of the shore was lined with totems in Masset, house poles and mortuary poles fronting the Haida longhouses.

Now there are fewer, scattered through the village, but gradually creeping back.

Painted Haida house and pole

Totem on the street - you can see the hooked beak of the eagle near the bottom.

There are ravens and eagles everywhere in Masset - so it's easy to see how the two main clan divisions of the Haida became established.  Ravens are easy to photograph - the eagles are more difficult because they're usually high in the sky or roosting on the tops of trees.  If you're Haida you're either Raven or Eagle and traditionally you can't marry someone from your own clan.  
Raven at Masset Inlet
One of my tasks here has been to consult the Council of the Haida Nation for permission to write about them and reference their stories and myths.  Unlike other cultures, stories in Haida Gwaii are owned by particular families and handed down from generation to generation - I suppose it's a form of copyright.  So I need permission to quote certain stories, and as a matter of respect,  I need permission to publish photographs of their artefacts.  The local head of the council here - a woman - was very kind and businesslike and will put my request in front of the cultural committee. 

While indigenous culture here is doing better than in many other places I've visited, there is still a lot of poverty and inequality.  There are two villages - Masset (which is largely European) and Old Masset (which is largely Haida).  Masset appears to be thriving, but Old Masset is a mixture of extreme poverty - abandoned cars and neglected buildings among the houses of the more prosperous Haida. 
One of the run-down houses on the waterfront.

The old museum, now abandoned. 
There are no shops that I could find - the big supermarkets are in Masset, and - though I looked for somewhere that might sell Haida artwork or carvings, I didn't see any, though I know there are some in Masset.  Perhaps tourists don't usually go to Old Masset.  That was definitely my impression. 

Tomorrow I'm going out to explore the forests and the beaches, hoping that the weather, which has become overcast and rather gloomy, will improve a little.  But I really shouldn't be wishing for the sun - they're desperate for rain here, having had dry sunny weather and high temperatures for almost a month - unheard of!  No one here questions climate change and the Haida, like other First Nation people in Canada are at the forefront of environmental action.  There are NoEnbridge signs in front gardens signalling opposition to the trans Canada pipeline that is supposed to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to a tanker port on the coast too near Haida Gwaii for safety.  In the Masset coffee shop there's a poster warning of the Fukishima radiation turning up on the beaches here - as a Haida saying has it 'Everything is connected' - what we do in one part of the world affects everyone else.  

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

In Margaret Atwood's Bedroom

So here I am, in Masset, Haida Gwaii, in Margaret Atwood's bedroom.  I'm staying at the famous Copper Beech, where Margaret stayed when she was writing a book and, due to a wonderful coincidence, I've been given her bedroom, which is called 'The Retreat'.  It's more like a ship's cabin than a room.
I was supposed to be in one of the others (they're all wonderful in their own way) but then the man who'd booked The Room arrived and he was too tall for the bed, so I offered to swap my Queen size for his Economy and here I am.  It's small but perfectly formed and I have the view to die for between my toes at the end of the bed.  The only problem is that I'm now expected to write something worthy of the room, which probably means that I won't write a word!
Boats moored in Masset Inlet at the bottom of my bed. 
Copper Beech is owned by Canadian poet Susan Musgrave and is one of the most interesting and quirky guest houses I've ever stayed in.  It's like staying in the curiosity shop of some exotic bazaar. My bedroom has the most beautiful peacock silk embroidered curtains balanced on a bamboo pole (heaven forbid I should ever have to close them!), there's a bedside light made out of a bamboo teapot,  a ceiling light made from a wheel,  puppets dangling from antlers, a copper bowl full of stones, bones and feathers, and the walls are decorated with paintings and hangings by Haida artists. Raven is here in all his incarnations.  All the rooms of the house are crowded with wonderful things. This is the sitting room, complete with African penis gourd and The Last Supper arranged in a sardine can.

Copper Beech has a long history - it was originally owned by an island eccentric and was at one point a 1$ flop-house. Then the previous owner ran it as a B&B which was famous for impromptu dinners and excellent company as well as the outrageous decor. David Philips, something of a performance artist, played host to 'lost souls, hippies and celebrities like the Trudeaus'. Apparently if you stayed here you never knew quite what might happen, and you were just as likely to fall through the furniture as into it. Susan has changed the beds and the sofas in the interests of comfort, but the rest has been kept just as it was.  This is the Haida carved chest in the sitting room, used as a coffee table.

The company is as varied as the house.  There's a doctor and his fiancee who are walking the length of the island and have come to have their wedding rings made by a Haida jeweller.  Two middle aged ladies have cycled (!!) all the way from Smithers in northern British Columbia, via Prince Rupert on the mainland, to get here. That's a journey of several hundred miles. There's a naturalist looking at the bird life and an academic from Victoria.  Oh, and another writer - Katie Welch, who has written an eco-novel called The Bears.

Just one note of caution - Haida Gwaii sits on the Queen Charlotte fault, which is very active.  There's a notice on my bedroom wall fit to strike fear into the most valiant soul.  In the event of an earthquake . . .