news | Tuesday March 3, 2020

Ken Belford (1946–2020)

Picture of Fireweed, adjacent to picture of Ken Belford.

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Talon poet and environmentalist Ken Belford. Ken gave unstintingly to poetics in British Columbia for over fifty years, playing an integral role in writing and publishing in northern British Columbia. He also holds a unique place in Talon’s history as the author of our first published book: Fireweed, released in 1967.

His nine other published books are The Post Electric Caveman, Sign Language, Pathways Into the Mountains, Ecologue, When Snakes Awaken, Lan(d)guage: a Sequence of Poetics, Decompositions, Internodes, and Slick Reckoning. The last three are still in print with Talonbooks.

The “self-educated lan(d)guage” poet wrote that living for decades in the “back country” afforded him a unique relationship to language that rejects the colonial impulse to write about nature, but speaks from the regions of the other.

“The conventional standards of narrative and lyric poetry give me nothing. The intention of the sequences I write is to assemble words that can be messaged to the habituated souls of the city from the land-aware that live outside city limits.”

We will continue to listen to Ken’s voice.

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