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Author Profile

Katerina Fretwell is a poet and visual artist. Her most recent solo art show was at Gallery 814, Toronto, ON 2018; She won First Prize for Watercolour, Artfocus group show, Toronto 2001; and her art resides in Copenhagen, Tokyo, Toronto and across Canada and the US.  She’s travelled through Asia, Europe, North and Central America and concludes she has lived in some of the world's most stunning areas. She is aware of so many extinctions and extreme weather events and strives to commemorate flora and fauna in her poems and paintings.  Since moving to Seguin Township, Ontario in 1982, Katerina has noticed a huge decline in wildlife in the woods in the area. A former Maritimer, born in the water sign of Cancer, she loves all things oceanic. She is a former competitive swimmer and loved swimming in Rankin Lake, before moving to St. Catharines, the garden city, to be close to family.

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Fretwell uses indents, varied line lengths, and single line stanzas to emphasize her verse that reflect both poise and poignancy on the impact humans are having on the planet. Her earthy affection is delivered in a contemporary Canadian style that, put in a musical context, would compare to a soulful sax-jazz rhythm, combined with rapped alliteration and set in a classical theory of personal point of view. Fretwell breathes what she feels. At times, deadly serious, or seriously funny, she holds a beat to the world’s telling problem, humanities careless activity, that mirrors a Burtynsky photo like an expenditure statement of accounts owing. ~ Keith Inman, author of “The War Poems -Screaming at Heaven”

 What might we say is ‘’the usefulness of poetry”?  Might it give us hope for a rescuing from past and present harms, a restoration of nature’s equilibrium, what the biologists call homeostasis, the balance within the ecology we have disturbed by our hubris, our greed to consume, our proclivity for destruction, and even the ironic taxonomy of Adam’s role in naming the beasts and husbanding the flock betrays a kind of vanity. Perhaps we are simply intelligent parasites doomed to self-destruction. There seems to be a sufficiency of wildfire, flood, drought, hurricane, to warn us we’re on a path to ruination. Katerina Fretwell in her book, Holy in My Nature, uses the word ‘solastalgia’ to help the reader begin to comprehend the individual and collective malaise we feel because of the deleterious impact we’re having on our environment. Climate change, the loss of wilderness, mass extinction, the melting of the polar ice caps, and on and on we seem to go.  She dedicates her book ‘to nature lovers, everyone concerned about our planetary impact.”  Her poems make a compelling argument. Might the voice of the poet be called upon to awaken humanity to a kind and gentler stewardship? Fretwell writes in one poem, “Nature sings, listen ” and reading these poems is a form of deeply attentive listening, and that’s the doorway to the possibility of healing.~John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Brantford, Ontario, Canada 

What if they organized an apocalypse and nobody cared?  That horrific, real-time truth is what Katerina Fretwell contests in Holy in My Nature.  These are EMERGENCY poems:  Crack the spine and dial 911.  But only if you treasure an animal’s “lope” over the “trophy” of its head on a killer’s wall; only if you realize that you are not just “reading Dante,” but now must truly “live the Inferno, / die in one of the subterranean rings.”  Despite the bitter fact of “we humans squandering our heirloom / As if chopping up inherited antiques,” Fretwell presents these urgent meditations as lyric elegies, summoning us to action.~ George Elliott Clarke, Author of “Canticles III (MMXXIII)”  & Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2016 & 17)

 Fretwell takes up Greta Thunberg's challenge of "Is this the world that you leave us?" in a cascade of sorrows, eulogies, nostalgias, landfills, clear-cuts, prayers, warnings, rebuffs, satires and sacred curses, all swept into an anthem of resistance and hope for her grandchild.  ~ Harold Rhenisch, author of “The Salmon Shanties”.

These poems testify to the “climate carnage” we have been perpetrating. At first glance, the “I” can be associated with the poet, but the speaker frequently slips in and out of this mask. The “I” is not omniscient but learning and unlearning. In some poems, the speaker altogether fades into the imagery. We are left with nature uninterrupted by human consciousness. Still, in others, the use of personal pronouns invites us to acknowledge the presence of nature in ourselves. Confronting these pronoun shifts, the reader may ask, “Who is speaking? Is it me, or is it you? What is this about? Is it about them or about us?” ~ Bänoo Zan, author of “Letters to My Father”