Red Deer Polytechnic teacher Jenna Butler is a finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction for her book Reverie: a year of bees.
Butler said she uses storytelling to examine bees, natural ecology and climate change. Her book also ended up being a personal account of trauma recovery.
Butler said she carried pain and fear issues with her after many years of abuse.
“I came to bees because I wanted to overcome this and I thought bees had a lot to learn about energy and fear. When you think of bees you think of how amazing honey is and how amazing bees are. But you also think about getting bitten. So the bees taught me a lot about dealing with my own fear and my own fear of pain, ”said Butler, professor of creative writing and environmental writing.
Butler and her husband have six beehives on their land in Barrhead County, northwest of Edmonton, where they are rehabilitating farmland with cover crops and growing organic vegetables and wildflowers.
She said their 160 acres are surrounded by neighbors who see firsthand the impact of climate change on their farms after flooding and, more recently, drought.
“Now we have trees dying all over the place. People were having such a hard time finding pasture for cattle and finding enough hay. It will be a big problem this winter.
Butler said she wrote her book for anyone interested in beekeeping, or for those simply wondering about bees and their connection to both pollination and how they are affected by it. climate change.
Released during the pandemic, Reverie also caught the attention of many urban gardeners who were considering adding a beehive.
She said people are starting to view bees, bears, whales and other wildlife based on their connection to the larger ecosystem. Reverie, and books like this, have helped to encourage this discussion.
“He really had a life of his own, which is what you hope in a book. I have heard from people all over Canada and the United States. I have heard from friends and readers from all over Europe, from all walks of life and from all walks of life. People also want to exchange and tell their stories, which is my favorite part: the dialogue. “
Reverie has been used previously in the classroom at MacEwan University and can be incorporated into environmental literature, memory, and creative writing courses.
Butler said more and more students are looking for opportunities to talk about environmental changes in their own lives.
“They want to talk and there isn’t necessarily a place to talk about it. Environmental writing, it gives them the space to talk about these things, and then the creative writing gives them the space to bring their own personal stories, frame them and learn how to tell them, ”said the instructor who is currently on leave and will be returning to Red Deer Polytechnic in the spring.
The winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards will be announced on November 17.
Butler said becoming a finalist was surreal.
“I am in the company of writers whose works I have read for years and whom I admire incredibly. I feel like it’s a privilege. Whether Reverie win or not, I’m just thrilled to be around writers like these.
Butler is also the author of books of poetry Rarely seen road, well, and Aphelia, a collection of ecological tests, A job of hope: cultivating on the edge of the Grizzly trail, and a poetic travelogue, Magnetic North: Sea voyage to Svalbard.
Reverie was published by Wolsak & Wynn, of Hamilton, Ont.
Red Deer College