Cornelia Hoogland’s “Trailer Park Elegy,” (Harbour, 2017), was a Finalist for the prestigious League of Canadian Poets’ Raymond Souster Award, Two previous books were on the Relit 2011 National Poetry Award; “Woods Wolf Girl” (Wolsak and Wynn), was a finalist. Her long poem, Tourists Stroll a Victoria Waterway, was shortlisted for the 2017 CBC Poetry Awards. “Sea Level,” short-listed for the CBC Nonfiction Awards, was published as a poem (Baseline Press, 2012). Recent wins include 1st place in Freefall Magazine, and placements in Calgary Spoken Word Society’s “Canada 150 Poetry,” The New Quarterly’s “Nick Blatchford,” Pulp Literature, and Room’s “Short Forms” competitions. Cornelia Hoogland grew up on Canada’s west coast, and after many years of living in cities across Canada, has returned home. Gravelly Bay and You Are Home speak to Hoogland’s sense of home––both ocean and woods imagery dominate her books. Her sustained examination of the coastal rainforest in Woods Wolf Girl (Wolsak and Wynn, 2011), gives her treatment of the fairy tale, Red Riding Hood, a particularly wolfish cast of mind. The Grimm tale is also the source of her play, Faim de Loup (Hungry Wolf), shortlisted for production at the Women Playwrights International in Sweden in August 2012, and given a full production (titled RED, by Fountainhead Theatre in London, Ontario, in 2013, John Gerry directing. Crow (Black Moss Press, 2011), celebrates the ‘wolf-bird’ who has accompanied her many homes across the nation, and was on the longlist for the Relit 2011 National Poetry Award. Hoogland founded and was the artistic director of Poetry London (www.poetrylondon.ca) from 2004-2012, she now directs Poetry* Hornby Island, on the Gulf Island where she lives with her husband Ted Goodden, a visual artist, and their dog, Drummer.
Trailer Park Elegy
In response to her brother’s sudden death, Hoogland explores the shift in gravity his dramatic absence creates. Set on the Salish sea on Vancouver Island’s east coast, Trailer Park Elegy reaches back two thousand years to the First Peoples, as well as to the brother whose delight was summers spent at Deep Bay.
Hoogland looks to her child-experiences of death, as well as to chaos theory, dark matter, geology, and the effect of noise pollution on whales. She turns grief round and round, enlarges it, pushes beyond received ideas of closure and grief’s stages. Death is not only part of life, the dead assign their unfinished work to the living. Hoogland’s narrator puts in the time. Listens.
The reader participates in Hoogland’s excavations as she leans in, digs up an absurdity, hits a fault line. Similarly, she inquires deeply into her brother’s life, listening for what he reveals. Through spare, never-sentimental language, Hoogland’s lyric resources are adequate to human loss and suffering. “I see reflected in my daughters’ faces / the story my brother animates. / He opens his hands, / shapes a funnel his life / pours through.”
The book’s form, a long poem, provides thematic coherence for the multiple contingencies that disturb the narrator’s present. Like keeping balls up in the air, Hoogland expertly catches and tosses, thus sustaining her imaginative energies throughout the book. Here she is, contemplating the cliché that life flashes before the eyes of the dying, or questioning memory stored in her body like trauma or fat, when suddenly there she is, fifty years earlier, constructing the highway at the accident site. [Website]