KANE, Donna

Author Tags: Poetry

Donna Kane lives a few miles northeast of Dawson Creek, in Rolla. Her poetry has appeared in journals across Canada. She first began organizing literary events in her community in 1999, often at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery.

DATE OF BIRTH: February 23, 1959

PLACE OF BIRTH: Dawson Creek

EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Executive Director, Northern Lights College Foundation

AWARDS: Lina Chartrand Award for Poetry 2000


Somewhere, A Fire (Hagios Press, 2004)
Erratic (Hagios Press, 2007)

[BCBW 2007] "Poetry"

Geography is not destiny
Personal Essay (2007)

from Donna Kane
You won’t see her activities covered on Bravo TV or mentioned in Quill & Quire, but for ten years Donna Kane has organized writing retreats, festivals and writer-in-residence programs throughout the Peace River region. Recently she worked with the City of Dawson Creek to name a street after singer/songwriter Roy Forbes. Her new book of poetry is Erratic (Hagios Press $16.95). 978-0-9739727-9-5

by Donna Kane

Some say the internet is a third culture. Whether you live in the “boonies” or in the city, where you eat breakfast dissolves the instant you log on.

A writer in Rolla, up here in the Peace River country, can be in the same space as a writer on Queen Street—both equally “there”—just like that.

Sometimes I do catch myself thinking about what it might be like to be a writer living in Toronto, perhaps drinking Prosecco with Griffin poetry prize winners in someone’s backyard or reading at the Art Bar where Gord Downie might show up and invite me to a party.

But the boonies is where I’ve always lived, a place where, offline, a good cappuccino is at least one gravel road and several hours away, and Saturday’s Globe and Mail might not arrive until Monday. With 70% of Canadians living in urban areas, when I look out my window and see more land than houses, I know I’m in the minority. The imagery around me mostly passes for natural, so it can’t help but give my writing a rural flair. Driving where I do, road kill is certain to pop up as a subject far more often than it would, say, in the work of a city poet. And if a city poet comes for a reading, it’s entirely possible that a fierce blizzard will prevent me from reaching the airport to pick them up, which might then inspire a poem about blizzards and road kill.

Last winter, Liz Bachinsky came to read and I didn’t make it to the airport. In less than an hour the temperature dropped 20 degrees causing the wind to pick up so ferociously that the suddenly falling snow drifted my road until it disappeared. That Liz’s plane landed in the midst of that storm seems less miraculous than just plain stupid.

So there’s the northern weather, the northern roads, the northern imagery. At the same time, there’s the reading series I’ve held in the Peace for the past 10 years where many of Canada’s best poets have come to read. And the after-reading events, at places like the Rolla Pub (where Ken Babstock was shot at with a BB gun and Lorna Crozier learned to tie her logging boots) have, in my opinion at least, given our venues the kind of literary fame that would turn Toronto’s Drake green with envy.

My reading series has, in fact, reached such a level of chic that a recent reader, upon arriving in Dawson Creek, undaunted by the number of pickup trucks with moose antlers in the back, asked the first person he saw where the nearest vegetarian restaurant might be. That may have taken things a bit far, but it does suggest that just because you live in the boonies, doesn’t mean you can’t acquire at least the essence of literary hip.

Here artists working in various disciplines band together because there aren’t enough writers or visual artists to make up their own separate clans. Having such a diversity of artists chat and drink wine together has resulted in some groundbreaking events. A prime example is the launch of my new book inside a granary at the Sweetwater Festival in Rolla. My reading from Erratic was conducted next to a two-headed calf, an art installation by Karl Mattson entitled Industrial Evolution.

In the end, I’m grateful for email and bookninja.com, but as a writer, I’m interested in who we are as human beings, how we view the world where we are. I don’t think those concerns would be different if I was in a Toronto backyard or standing next to a two-headed calf.

[Donna Kane lives a few miles northwest of Dawson Creek, in Bessborough. She has just completed a reading tour that included Rolla, Regina, Saskatoon, Booner’s Ferry (Idaho), Antigonish, Halifax and Vancouver. Now she’s back in the boonies—where she belongs. You can visit her world at www.donnakane.com]