Thule Explorer
Rosemary Clewes

Thule Explorer by Rosemary Clewes

ISBN: 978-1-897475-05-8

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ISBN - 978-1-897475-10-2


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About the Author

About this book


Blurbs about the book


Readings / Talks / Slides

About the Author:

In the author’s own words, “Living on the cusp of my personal frontiers is a recurring theme, and in my writing I conduct a conversation with the land, seeking to understand my place in the larger order, and in the power and fragility of nature. I consider myself an explorer, charting the serendipitous events where the physical and the miraculous meet. I am interested in the authentic moments, when we forget ourselves and find that we have come home.”

Rosemary Clewes has made six trips to the Arctic in both winter and summer. She has rafted some of the great rivers in the Yukon and Alaska, and kayaked in eastern Arctic waters, camping on both Greenland and Ellesmere Island. She has reached the highest latitudes by icebreaker.

Her extensive northern travels are forming a body of work in both poetry and prose. Works in progress include: “Once Houses Could Fly,” a long poem describing a two week kayaking trip in the Kane Basin of the east coast of Ellesmere Island; and “The Woman Who Went to the Moon,” about one week in January in the mid-Arctic community of Igloolik, where the Rising of the Sun Ceremony is celebrated after four months of darkness. Many of her poems have been published in literary journals. A crown of sonnets on two weeks kayaking in Greenland was nominated by The Malahat Review for the National Magazine Awards in 2006. She won a first honourable mention in Arc Poetry Magazine’s 10th Annual Poem of the Year Contest and she was a finalist in the 2006 CBC Literary Awards.

Rosemary Clewes was born in Toronto and has a list as long as your arm of her many passions. Alongside her work as an MSW, a Gestalt and Marriage and Family Therapist, she was an accomplished horse-woman, painter and printmaker. Now she writes poetry, practices the piano, and travels by icebreaker to the ends of the earth in search of home.

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About this book:

Filled with poetry and the expression of life, this book is not just an exploration of the arctic in a kayak but it is an exploration of character. Artist, writer, Rosemary Clewes is one of few that dared explore where her heart took her. In this book, she explores the edges - the edge of centuries-old ice, the edge of the world, the edge of her world - and finds miracles live at the frontier of one¹s reality. She brings to her explorations a practised eye, an intelligent mind, the newcomer¹¹s sensibilities, and an insight inclined to the metaphysical.

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Ultimat Thule

Around 325 B.C., the seafarer Pytheas of Massalia discovered an island, six days sailing north of England, which he called Thule. It is generally thought that the island was present-day Iceland. At that time Thule meant the northernmost known island. But with increased geographical know-ledge the name eventually moved farther north. The farthest north: Ultima Thule. Thule became synonymous with cold wilderness.

     In 1910 Knud Rasmussen established the Kap York Trading Post. On a suggestion from the  manager, Peter Freuchen, it was called Thule. The trading post financed the famous Thule expeditions.

     Archaeological investigations at the Eskimo settlement of Uummmannaq, in the vicinity of  the trading post, introduced the name Thule into Eskimology in 1921 as a term for the youngest  Eskimo culture, whose people came to Greenland around the year 1200   the Thule culture. The Thule people were the founders of today's Greenlanders.

     In 1963 the area was given official status as the 17th municipality of Greenland  the Thule municipality. The northernmost community in the world. 

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Blurbs about the book:

Savour the white of the margins here as it holds this distinct and reverent prose to its itinerary along an edge between poetry & journal. Clewes shares soakers and awe.  We follow her Nowhere, eagerly. This is going too far, thankfully. This is risk for song.

Phil Hall

Rosemary Clewes is one of those rare gems that, if you¹¹re lucky, you discover in the most unlikely of places. Her spirit brims with the thrill of exploration, and yet she calmly absorbs every detail. In this book, she explores the edges - the edge of centuries-old ice, the edge of the world, the edge of her world - and finds miracles live at the frontier of one¹s reality. She brings to her explorations a practised eye, an intelligent mind, the newcomer¹¹s sensibilities, and an insight inclined to the metaphysical. If you have an adventurous spirit, or admire those who do, this is the book for you.

David F. Pelly - Arctic traveller, & author of Thelon - A River Sanctuary and Sacred Hunt

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I have travelled for a decade in many parts of the Arctic, by ship, raft, and now by kayak. In the first two instances, I encountered empty landscapes, lit as far as the eye could see with the tender summer light. They felt timeless and tranquil, lush, yet austere: landscapes where the relationships between growing things and the activities of animals, and to light and water, soil and ice, seemed harmonious and undisturbed.

To be sure, I saw traces of human presence in the tent rings of stone set high on a tundra plain above a river canyon, or in tombstones marking the ghastly end of explorers’ dreams on the deserted beach at Beechy Island.

When the world of Inuit and landscape came together in northwest Greenland, I was grateful for the Arctic primer of earlier summers, and while I had touched the land there, with my hands and feet, I found, travelling under my own steam at a paddling-pace in the Inglefield Fjord, that this realm of ice and flowers was more knowable and accessible.

Kayaking in Greenland, 2002, the land is close-up and intimate. We take each day as it comes, leaving our clocks behind, all proof of our identity left in the storage room in Qaanaaq; and, as nearly as we can, we tread with light feet. We cling to each other yet at the same time grow taller with the thrill of elbow room for the soul, which such infinite space permits. We eat three times in any twenty-four hour period, our days lengthening as the midnight sun rolls them over differently, aligning our internal clocks now to the rhythm of light. We eat later and sleep less, living closer to the Inuit way. Hunters invite us into their summer hunting camps to share a pot of tea and to witness the traditional narwhal hunt by kayak and harpoon. The land lives in these people, and I feel more alive because of it.

What keeps drawing me north is more complex than merely doting on the stripped beauty of land and ice forms. There, I let my eye roam, free of barriers. Indeed, to re-learn the thrill of sight and sound and to ponder them all over again. The surprising vibrancy of tundra brings me to my knees. The drop of dew on a wintergreen leaf has its own way of speaking of mortality.

Many times over the last five years I had thought this book was finished, but whenever I returned to it I found I had more to say. Each additional re-write seemed like the quarter turn given a bottle of wine to bring it to full maturity.

It occurs to me that, as it has ripened, so have I. And further, that the Arctic does not dole out its gifts, gratis. I have worked for them – earned them if you will. The Polar North always keeps one fist behind its back. It gives and it takes, but while full of surprises, it never lies. Learning the land is incremental, and when my understanding falters I return to what I can grasp: a lemon poppy whipped by the wind on a springing stem. Life going on for it: for us all.  

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Readings / Talks / Slides
that the author has done

March 22/08 I took part reading and showing slides, in a day-long workshop led by Mary Jo Leddy on “Place and Prayer.” It was held at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. My theme was “The North as Place.”

April 23/08 I was the featured reader at the Tree Reading Series, held in the Royal Oak Pub, Ottawa.

May 22/08 from 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm, I am reading/slides at the Northern District Library, 40 Orchard View Boulevard, Toronto for the “ORCHARDVIEWERS” Group.

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