Susan McCaslin and poems for a cause

By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor

Last Thursday, Canadian poet, author, editor, and former Douglas professor Susan McCaslin stopped by Douglas’ New West campus for a lunchtime talk, where she discussed her writings, her career, and some immensely important current issues she’s been involved with.

McCaslin has published over 10 books of poetry, each of them connected to the previous book. Her latest collection of poems, the 2012 Alberta Publishers Award-winning Demeter Goes Skydiving (a line taken from a past poem), was inspired by the Greek myth of Demeter, the harvest goddess whose daughter Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, raped, and whom Demeter desperately tries to save from a life in the underworld. McCaslin places the tale in modern times, with the concept being that Demeter is skydiving from a helicopter to try and get an aerial view of where her daughter could be, all while each of the three characters go through emotional arcs.

While Demeter Goes Skydiving isn’t entirely bleak, McCaslin’s next collection of poems is going to be somewhat darker. Her next book, The Disarmed Heart, will focus on the continued wars going on in the world, and vie for a time of peace. A self-described “peace-nik,” McCaslin and her husband have also taken it upon themselves recently to help in the fight against selling the land of the McLellan Forest, located outside Langley and within Glen Valley.

Several sites including the McLellan Park Blog (, run by the Watchers of Langley Forest (WOLF), have been producing up-to-date news on the forest’s state, along with a number of artistic pieces being made in order to promote the issue and raise the $3 million that will prevent the land from being placed on the open market.

What makes the issue even more crucial is that the deadline to have the $3 million by is December 17, less than three weeks from now. McCaslin has used what she can of her time to raise awareness of the McLellan Forest, and has written several poems that can be read on the Park Blog.

McCaslin has done just about all that she can in order to aid the cause, but she remains hopeful, because even in the worst situations, that’s all one can be.

Two videos, one entitled “Save McLellan Park” and another entitled “Save Langley’s McLellan Forest,” have been uploaded to YouTube in order to raise further awareness. If you’d like to get involved, you can sign up over at, and of course, pledge whatever amount you can.


The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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