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Borealis

2002
Author:

Jeff Humphries
Illustrations by Betsy Bowen

Borealis

A poet and artist collaborate in a journey to the heart of the North Woods.

Woodcuts by Betsy Bowen

Borealis is the North Country as spoken through the voice of Jeff Humphries, who discovers unexpected riches in the wilderness looming around his cabin. As interpreted by renowned illustrator Betsy Bowen, the subjects of the poems come to inhabit the pages of this volume; her spare and beautifully composed woodcuts reveal surprising facets of Humphries’ words.

Borealis is a beautifully done, hardcover book of poems-but for this reader, the illustrations, printed from original woodcuts is the selling point. It’s a very nice looking book-one of those well suited as a part of the coffee table selection.

Redwood Falls Gazette

Woodcuts by Betsy Bowen

Voyageurs travel to find the palace of Kubilai Khan in the Quetico-Superior border country. The menacing teeth of a northern pike remind us of the potential violence hidden in seemingly innocent lakes. A moose-"lumbering satyr"-expresses the bestial nature of life in the woods.

This is the North Country as spoken through the voice of Jeff Humphries, who discovers unexpected riches in the wilderness looming around his cabin. As interpreted by renowned illustrator Betsy Bowen, the subjects of the poems come to inhabit the pages of this volume; her spare and beautifully composed woodcuts reveal surprising facets of Humphries’ words.

These poems trace the layers of invisible meaning embedded in the northern lands-the inevitable passage from shallow to deep, civilized to wild-the new forms of wisdom to be gained in such an encounter. It is a book for and about all those who, failing to find what they came for, instead find a benediction and are never the same.

Written near Sigurd Olson’s Listening Point on Burntside Lake in northern Minnesota, these poems portray a land haunted by animal spirits, long known to Ojibwe and Cree. In words and pictures Humphries and Bowen reveal the secrets and hidden lives of the creatures of the North Woods-loons, ruffed grouse, bears, wolves, trees, lakes, even stones-exploring the mysterious common ground between their languages and ours.


Borealis

Jeff Humphries is the author of several books, including A Bestiary (1995), a collection of poems. His fiction has been published in the Best American Short Stories series, and he is the recipient of an American Academy of Poets award. Humphries is professor of French, English, and comparative literature at Louisiana State University, and spends summers at a family cabin near Ely, Minnesota.

Betsy Bowen operates her fine art print shop in Grand Marais, Minnesota, and is the author and illustrator of Gathering: A Northwoods Counting Book (1995, 1999); Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year (1991, 2002); and Tracks in the Wild (1993, 1998).

Borealis

Borealis is a beautifully done, hardcover book of poems-but for this reader, the illustrations, printed from original woodcuts is the selling point. It’s a very nice looking book-one of those well suited as a part of the coffee table selection.

Redwood Falls Gazette

Borealis

CONTENTS

introduction et allegro

voyageurs
the lake
northern pike
frogs
the merganser
moose
osprey
jack pine
beaver
bald eagle
alexander mackenzie
the bear
hummingbird
porcupine
red squirrel
maple
ruffed grouse
marten
lake trout
raven
the drowned man
stone
saw-whet owl
the wolf
song sparrow
walleye
birches
the lynx and the snowshoe hare
red-backed vole
loons laughing
the geologist