“Ponderosa Pine” by Lyndsey Nichols. This submitted sketch is one of the illustrations expected to be included in a forthcoming literary field guide for the Cascadia region of B.C., Washington State and Oregon. (Lyndsey Nichols/Submitted photo)

Iconic Haida Gwaii species to be included in literary field guide for ‘Cascadia’

Experts, artists working on literary field guide with ‘kinship clusters’ for Pacific Northwest

Experts, poets and artists are working together to create a literary field guide for the Cascadia region of B.C., Washington State and Oregon, organized by “kinship clusters” rather than western taxonomy.

Writer and naturalist Elizabeth Bradfield, who says her “origins and heart home are in the Pacific Northwest,” told the Observer she is working part-time with Terrain.org poetry editor Derek Sheffield and former Alaska State Writer Laureate Ernestine Hayes on the labour of love.

Bradfield said they are working to send a book proposal to several presses and hope the project will find a home soon.

ALSO READ: Artist-biologist duo that contributed to conservation on Haida Gwaii wins award

Hayes, who is a Tlingit writer and professor in Juneau, suggested using an Indigenous way of organizing the field guide rather than a typical western taxonomy — classifications such as insects, birds and so on. The trio settled on creating “kinship clusters” to organize the guide — sets of seven to 10 endemic or iconic beings that share a relationship with each other in some way. One of the kinship clusters will be the Salish Sea.

For each cluster, Bradfield said classical natural history information, such as range and distribution, is planned for publication alongside special poems that speak to the species therein and unique imagery created by a variety of artists, from sketches to possibly including graffiti.

“Because what field guides can’t really do is speak to the heart, so we want this field guide to do that as well,” Bradfield said.

The end product is meant to be useable and affordable, “something that you might take with you as you go out wandering.”

Several species planned for inclusion are iconic to Haida Gwaii, she added, naming cedar, salmonberry, raven, giant Pacific octopus and orca, among others.

ALSO READ: Hope for ‘Cascadia’ tourism amid COVID-19 border restrictions

Bradfield said it was important to credit David McCloskey, the Seattle University sociology professor who popularized the idea of “Cascadia” as a bioregion.

She also said their literary field guide is modeled after two others that have been published by different presses, one for the Sonoran desert and another for southern Appalachia.

“We hope to be the third in the non-series series,” she said.

ALSO READ: Haida Gwaii-based writer takes home third prize in international poetry contest

One of Bradfield’s favourite entries in the “Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide” book is for the broad-billed hummingbird.

She said the poem by Alberto Álvaro Ríos “is only one sentence long and shimmers in the air like the bird itself,” and the accompanying illustration “points to the bird’s amazing ability to manipulate the movement of its wings.”

She also noted the humor in the natural history description for the bird, which in the “Life History” section begins, “Talk about target heart rates. A hummingbird’s heart may beat up to 1.200-1,400 times per minute when it’s active.”

“What I love is the humor, wonder, and accuracy that this entry encapsulates,” she said.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jennifer Rice BC NDP North Coast Incumbent was re-elected for a third according to the preliminary results on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Subsea fibre optics running from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal Communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13.
Subsea fibre optics running from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13. (Black Press Media)
CityWest to refresh subsea fibre optics project

Fibre optics project to run cable from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii then south to Vancouver

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Most Read