Magnetic North


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Table of Contents

xi The Journey
1 Lines Toward Ice
7 Pyramiden
13 Ornithomancy
19 Night
23 Bone
29 The Men at the Edge of the World
35 She Becomes the Ocean
41 Arctic by Air
47 Afloat
53 Barentsburg
59 Cusp
65 Postcard from Svalbard
71 At the Face
77 Threads
83 Leaving Days
89 Song to the Boreal

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]
*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]
*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 Roburn*

This 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*

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