Kelly Shepherd reads from his recent collection of poetry in Shift (Thistledown Press) at Gallery Vertigo Friday

Poet shifts gears

Former Okanagan resident Kelly Shepherd explores themes of human relationships with the natural world in his new book of poetry, Shift.

The poets are coming out of the woodwork as National Poetry Month continues across Canada.

Here in the North Okanagan, a few poetry events are scheduled, including the launch of the new book of prose poetry, Tight Wire, by Vernon writer Kerry Gilbert at the Vernon library, April 28.

Fellow poet Kelly Shepherd, who also has an Okanagan connection, is arriving in Vernon the very next day to read from his recent collection of work, Shift (Thistledown Press), at Gallery Vertigo.

Originally from Smithers, Shepherd has lived all over, including in Salmon Arm, Kelowna, Big River, Gwangju, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, a blue Dodge Caravan, and Edmonton.

Before returning to Kelowna to complete his master’s in fine art in creative writing, he completed a bachelor of education degree and a master’s in religious studies at the University of Alberta.

He currently lives and teaches in Edmonton.

Shepherd’s poetry in Shift reflects the numerous meanings of its title: a shift of perspective or point of view, physically moving or shifting position, transforming or changing form or physical appearance, shifting gears while driving a vehicle, or working the night shift.

Whether his subjects are starlings or tamaracks, woodchucks or grizzly bears, the ever-present magic of nature guides not only the mode but directs each poem’s tone towards a unique perspective.

“For years, Shepherd has been crafting his song of work in the placeless grid of the city, while he has learned the honesty of his hands,” said Vernon author and poet Harold Rhenisch. “These are poems of embodied vision from a poet who travels playfully and sometimes wearily into the earth, yet always comes back in wonder.”

Shepherd has been part of numerous poetry reading events, including creative collaborations with other writers, musicians, and visual artists. His poetry and nonfiction writing has been published in journals and magazines including The Goose, The Coastal Spectator, and Geist. He has also written five poetry chapbooks.

Shepherd’s reading at Gallery Vertigo, located at #1-3001 31st St. (upstairs), starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29. The evening will include live music by Karen Donaldson Shepherd.


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