Arborophobia, the latest collection by award-winning poet Nancy Holmes, is a poetic spiritual reckoning. Its elegies, litanies, and indictments concern wonder, guilt, and grief about the journey of human life and the state of the natural world. When a child attempts suicide and western North America burns and the creep of mortality closes in, is spiritual and emotional solace possible or even desirable? Answers abound in measured, texturally intimate, and often surprising ways. The title sequence, named for a word that means “hatred of trees,” sassily blurs the boundaries between human beings and Ponderosa pines, reminding us how fragile our conceptual frameworks really are. Another sequence responds to Julian of Norwich’s writing and call “to practise the art / of letting things happen.” Saints’ lives interlace with our quotidian experience, smudging connections between the spiritual and the earthly. Taking a hard look at what we have done to this beautiful planet and to those we love, Arborophobia is a companion for all who grapple with the problem of hope in times of crisis.
Arborophobia, the latest collection by award-winning poet Nancy Holmes, is a poetic spiritual reckoning. Its elegies, litanies, and indictments concern wonder, guilt, and grief about the journey of human life and the state of the natural world.- 49th Shelf, February 28, 2022
"Arborophobia is made up of a series of narrative, meditative lyric on trees and dementia, loss and falling, mothers and motherhood, grief and erosion. Holmes writes of breakings, and of breaking apart, from climate to forests to the human ability to endure.... Through long, narrative stretches, she offers poems as companion pieces to climate anxiety, personal loss and the uncertainty of where we sit as a species, thanks in large part due to an array of choices both historic and ongoing." rob mclennan, April 27, 2022 [https://robmclennan.blogspot.com/2022/04/nancy-holmes-arborophobia.html]
#8 on the Calgary Herald Non-fiction bestsellers list, May 2, 2022
"'The slow unzipping/
Of the body from time:/
I didn’t notice.'
Nancy Holmes brings us beautifully observed instances of the natural world, a huge breadth of imagery, and documentation of an intense engagement with the living world. There is wit, and colour, swagger, and texture all played out along these lines, which move and live, brimming with invention." Jury comments, SCWES Book Awards for BC Authors
"... Nancy Holmes’ brilliant newest collection, Arborophobia, ... [explores] in some deeply philosophical ways the relationship between the natural and spiritual selves and the manifold ways in which one may negotiate the complexities of living a life bound up in both." Neil Querengesser, Canadian Literature, September 1, 2023 [Full review at https://canlit.ca/article/poetry-for-our-time/]