A Poem Celebrating Emily Carr 1871-1945

I’ve long been fascinated by the Canadian painter and writer, Emily Carr. Who wouldn’t admire a woman who went off – in 1898 – by herself – to stay in aboriginal villages in British Columbia? She was a daring Modernist artist, Canada’s answer to Georgia O’Keefe. At the same time, she was a staunch environmentalist before most people knew the word or understood the concept.

Photo by Christofer Jeschke, Portland Oregon.

Today, Aji Magazine (pronounced Ah-hee) published a poem of mine about this amazing artist in their “Emerald Issue”. http://ajimagazine.com

Brushed: Emily Carr

No one asked her to come.  She just came. To Cumshewa,
To Haida Gwaii. To The Islands of the People.
A leather satchel, wrinkled like an old woman’s nose,
stuffed with tubes of pthalo blue, camel hair brushes, old rags.
A dented frying pan, blackened by beans, hung
onto the slope of her horse’s back like a metal tail.

She was there to paint the hidden woods and waters,
to sweep the mines of aqua and marine.
Her arrival stirred the native sons, who narrowed their eyes
and hid behind the virgin firs at her first approach.
But the elders knew sacred when they saw it
and praised the transparent quiet of the stranger’s step.

At night she bedded down alone on the forest floor
letting the wolves speak to her, fauve to fauve.
By day, with hurried strokes, she copied the beryl pond,
the turquoise lakes, the blue-green domes.
Before the loggers slashed, before soapsuds curdled streams,
she stashed emeralds onto canvas, none too soon.

Published by

Gabriella Brand

Gabriella Brand is a writer, adventurer, and educational consultant. She can't stop teaching and learning foreign languages. She would like to walk on all the continents (three more to go!). Her husband is extremely patient and her children are, fortunately, all grown up.

5 thoughts on “A Poem Celebrating Emily Carr 1871-1945”

  1. Gabriella, Félicitations!!!!! I am not able to get this link to work. At first I tried it on my phone and thought maybe that was the reason but now I’m at home on my laptop and I still am getting the same message that the server up address can’t be found. Have you tried clicking on the link? Julie

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Hi Gabriella,
    I also couldn’t get access to the poem. A couple of days ago I was visiting a friend and she had a print of a painting by Emily Carr that I hadn’t seen before. It was very impressive. A little white church in the lush forest. The forest really overpowered the church and was to me the spiritual lasting presence. The church looked vacant, abandoned and out of place in that wild natural scene.


  3. I have just discovered Emily Carr. I was looking for a poem of hers for an online poetry group that shares poems. Couldn’t find one but found yours about her. Is it ok if I share your poem with a few words about your site? will try to follow you as well!


  4. Well, I see that you encourage people to share your posts so I’ll share the poem. I am fascinated with Emily Carr also. Your poem captures her well.


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