Paperback / softback
January 27, 2022
9.00 Inches (US)
5.25 Inches (US)
0.32 Inches (US)
.4 Pounds (US)
$21.99 USD, £15.99 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Magnetic North

Sea Voyage to Svalbard

"Windburned, eyes closed, this: beneath the keening of bergs, a deeper thresh of glaciers calving, creaking with sun. Sound of earth, her bones, wide russet bowl of hips splaying open. From these sere flanks, her desiccating body, what a sea change is born." From the endangered Canadian boreal forest to the environmentally threatened Svalbard archipelago off the coast of Norway, Jenna Butler takes us on a sea voyage that connects continents and traces the impacts of climate change on northern lands. With a conservationist, female gaze, she questions explorer narratives and the mythic draw of the polar North. As a woman who cannot have children, she writes out the internal friction of travelling in Svalbard during the fertile height of the Arctic summer. Blending travelogue and poetic meditation on place, Jenna Butler draws readers to the beauty and power of threatened landscapes, asking why some stories in recorded history are privileged while others speak only from beneath the surface.

About the Author

Jenna Butler is a poet, professor, essayist, and organic farmer from northern Alberta. She teaches Creative Writing at Red Deer College. Her books include Seldom Seen Road, Magnetic North, Wells, Aphelion, and an award-winning collection of ecological essays, A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail. Her memoir, Revery: A Year of Bees, was a finalist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-fiction.


# 7 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, August 16, 2018"Magnetic North is a beautiful little book, full of moments of intense vision, but it's also another ecological warning, couched in a poet's deep understanding of what she has seen & recorded in our now changing north. Wholly engaging both emotionally & intellectually, it's one of those books that truly adds to our understanding of the world we live in & continue to wound." [Full review at]—Douglas Barbour, Eclectic Ruckus"The remote island of Spitsbergen, on Norway's northern Svalbard archipelago, provides the setting for Butler's evocative ruminations on the harsh beauty at the edge of the world.... Butler's book is not a standard travel narrative; rather, she wields poetic prose to describe a place that most humans will never visit. The result is highly recommended for lovers of poetry and nature writing."—Publishers Weekly, starred review# 3 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, December 01, 2018# 1 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, January 13, 2019—Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers"[Jenna Butler is an] acute observer and a precise and cogent writer... [Hers] is a journey motivated by curiosity about the north, and a longing for sights to be seen before they disappear forever. Her descriptions of settlements scattered between mainland Norway and the Arctic Circle are evocative: her prose is poetic, and her poems (interspersed in the text) are visual and concrete." [Full review at]—Hilary Turner, Canadian Literature"an alternate view of the grandeur of Arctic nature, the paradox of Russian mining settlements in an area under Norwegian sovereignty, the critically endangered nature of the islands, how people respond to the extreme environment and living conditions in the Arctic, and a deep personal reflection on traveling to this part of the globe" Ingo Heidbrink, The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord, Vol. XXVIII, No. 4 [Full review at]—Ingo Heidbrink"Magnetic North is a delight, perfect for amateur botanists, naturalists or simply admirers of Butler's astonishing gifts as a poet."—Shirley RoburnThis is a beautiful series of portraits of place and time and captures ecological shifts, women who work in the places they're anchored and her own body's experience of being on boat, dinghy and icy land.—Yvonne Blomer, 49th Shelf, March 28, 2022


The ecologically-centered nonfiction vignettes are lyric, descriptive and brimming with carefully curated sensory detail. This is an instantly likable, highly intelligent, and empathetic narrator, one that we can trust from beginning to end.—Brenda Schmidt, poet"Jenna Butler takes us to the Norwegian Arctic, providing the reader with starkly vivid, incisive, and memorable images of its raw, unforgiving nature, the profound effects of what humans are doing to the North, and the equally powerful effects on the author herself. Her writing is beautiful, spare, inventive, and carved out of the experience with razor-sharp clarity."—Lorri Neilsen Glenn, award-winning author, poet, editor, and teacher

9781772123821 : magnetic-north-butler
Paperback / softback
120 Pages
$21.99 USD

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