Two Views of The North 1
Arctic Bay, Michelle Valberg, with permission
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Two Views of The North


Michelle Valberg’s Photography and the Arc Poetry Magazine Launch

 When award-winning Arctic photographer Michelle Valberg first flew from Ottawa to Nunavut five years ago she expected to see a landscape devoid of colour. Empty and barren.

Hudson Bay, Michelle Valberg, with permission


And yet, she discovered a landscape so poetic, so rich and diverse, she was inspired to return 26 more times, eventually publishing Arctic Kaleidoscope: The People, Wildlife and Ever-Changing Landscape last April with collaborator and Ottawa writer, Julie Beun.

Arctic Bay Fjord, Michelle Valberg, with permission


Her stunning photographs reveal the North as more than the sum of our, southern, preconceived notions. There, she found “…towering mountains, the vibrant, painted colours of the tundra, the majestic fjords, the incredible fierceness of the terrain.” Along with stories from the people, who are as much a part of the Arctic as its landscape, Arctic Kaleidoscope is a spectacular, visual presentation of the ultimate, unknown country.

Resolute Bay, Michelle Valberg, with permission


In a similar manner, though taking a different artistic approach, Arc Poetry Magazine’s latest issue also focuses on giving life to a vivid presentation of all things Northern.

Arc Poetry Magazine ‘North‘ Cover

The North issue features writing from, “…Canada’s high latitudes, with writers from Labrador, Yukon, Northern BC and other points North,” says the magazine, “complemented by a variety of Arctic-polished writers from across Canada and beyond.” Like Valberg’s photographs, the writing dispels any preconceptions southerners might have about the North.

Innu poet Makkus Pensashue recorded Elizabeth’s Song for the issue, available for listening on SoundCloud, beginning with a short discussion of his work.

Makkus Penashue, Arc Poetry Magazine

Arc’s Poetry Magazine’s North issue includes work from Norway and Denmark, as well as poems in Cree, Innu and Inuttitut. The four readers at the launch this Friday (November 22, 2013) are:

  • Renellta Arluk (Yellowknife), whose early life was spent on a trap line in the Northwest Teritories;
  • Emily McGiffin (Toronto), with a new book out from Brick Books;
  • Claudia Coutu-Radmore (Ottawa), whose contribution is a set of prose poems based on the letters of Labrador’s Leonard Budgell; and
  • Matt Jones (Kingston), writing from his military experience in in Greenland, Nunavut, Alaska and Iceland.


We sail North from Vancouver up to Alaska;

wheel for a few man-overboard drills on the way.

The waters of the Panhandle teem so thick with fishermen

we have to insinuate our way through the nets.

From “Intervention” by Matt Jones


One of Arc’s Advisory Editors for this issue was Taqralik Partridge, and Ottawa audiences might remember her 2012 visit to VerseFest. Here she performs “I Pick Berries” at the “Words Aloud 7 Spoken Word Festival” (Durham, Ontario, 2010).

Arc Poetry Magazine Launch

@ Pressed

750 Gladstone Avenue

7:30 pm on Friday, November 22


Note that this is a free event.



Brendan McNally is an Ottawa based writer who recently wrote, directed and produced Walking the South Coast of Wales, a 7 episode, guerrilla style, web mini travel series.