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Crow Gulch

Crow Gulch

80 pages
Published:   September 17, 2019
Poetry  /  Indigenous  /  icehouse poetry
Paperback:   9781773101019    $19.95

Winner, E.J. Pratt Poetry Award
Shortlisted, NL Reads, Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry and Raymond Souster Award
Longlisted, First Nation Communities READ Award

From the author: I cannot let the story of Crow Gulch — the story of my family and, subsequently, my own story — go untold. This book is my attempt to resurrect dialogue and story, to honour who and where I come from, to remind Corner Brook of the glaring omission in its social history.

In his debut poetry collection, Douglas Walbourne-Gough reflects on the legacy of a community that sat on the shore of the Bay of Islands, less than two kilometres west of downtown Corner Brook.

Crow Gulch began as a temporary shack town to house migrant workers in the 1920s during the construction of the pulp and paper mill. After the mill was complete, some of the residents, many of Indigenous ancestry, settled there permanently — including the poet's great-grandmother Amelia Campbell and her daughter, Ella — and those the locals called the "jackytars," a derogatory epithet used to describe someone of mixed French and Mi'kmaq descent. Many remained there until the late 1970s, when the settlement was forcibly abandoned and largely forgotten.

Walbourne-Gough lyrically sifts through archival memory and family accounts, resurrecting story and conversation, to patch together a history of a people and place. Here he finds his own identity within the legacy of Crow Gulch and reminds those who have forgotten of a glaring omission in history.
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Douglas Walbourne-Gough is a poet and mixed/adopted status member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation from Elmastukwek (the Bay of Islands), Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland). His poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Best Canadian Poetry in English, Grain, and the Fiddlehead, and has won the Riddle Fence Poetry Prize.

Walbourne-Gough’s debut collection, Crow Gulch, won the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award. It was also a finalist for NL Reads, the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, and the Raymond Souster Award, and was longlisted for the First Nations Community READS Award. Island is his second book of poetry.


Shortlisted: Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry
Shortlisted: Raymond Souster Award
Longlisted: First Nation Communities READ Award
Shortlisted: NL Reads
Winner: E.J. Pratt Poetry Award


“These deeply engaging poems — courageous, shrewdly observed, disillusioned — give sharp, personal expression to the harsh-beautiful landscape of western Newfoundland and the human community precariously, stubbornly rooted there. A sense of conflict drives through this work, a reflection of the tradiitonal struggle to gain a living from the sea and rocky land but also a raw exploration of the conflict between poverty and privilege, honesty and propriety.” — John Steffler, author of Lookout

Crow Gulch announces an important poet. The differences Douglas Walbourne-Gough explores between class and ethnicities are as hard as Newfoundland’s rock, as shifting as the foundations of a forcibly resettled Crow Gulch. This book is a conversation between a rude landscape, the displaced or dispossessed, and a narrator searching for belonging.” — Stephanie McKenzie, author of Before the Country: Native Renaissance, Canadian Mythology

“Bent low and clund to a coast, Walbourne-Gough lets the land shape him. Brilliant and weathered observation interlaces family and archive to render present and necessary the memory of Crow Gulch. Here is a day’s labour, a fretting walk along the tracks, a house ‘that lets in snow at the seams,’ grandmother's kitchen. Hear still ‘her peals of laughter against the far shore and all that lives on in this book.’” — Cecily Nicholson, author of Wayside Sang

“These poems convey the sensibilities of racialized, marginalized, working-class people whose rough lives are peppered with small pleasures like a warm featherbed and trout fishing with family, and with striking expressions of loyalty and affection. Following his ancestors, for whom a name could be ‘so wrought with work, so heavy, now, with love,’ the poet treats Crow Gulch as a place and a name that persists, ‘preceding and dragging / behind him like a loose bootlace.’” — Canadian Literature

“One of the most captivating elements of Douglas Walbourne-Gough’s Crow Gulch is the powerful humanism running through the collection.” — Miramichi Reader

“These poems challenge derogatory erasures and rework them by telling stories about the community’s inhabitants, drawn from oral histories, family memory, and imagining.” — PRISM

“Walbourne-Gough’s poems are intimate, in moments personal, often tracing family lineage. The poet’s questions are universal to those who seek, and anyone who has had a ruptured sense of belonging. His lyrical style grabs hold of you, and doesn’t let go.” — MUSKRAT

“A small stone, warm to the touch, mostly smooth but with just enough rough, satisfying edges to run your thumb along. That is the texture of Douglas Walbourne-Gough’s debut poetry book, Crow Gulch. It is a book of ‘hard beauty.’ . . . It is a stone worth keeping and returning to.” — The Fiddlehead

“I especially enjoyed ‘Influences’, a poem that looks back on the places . . . food . . . music . . . and people.” — Consumed by Ink

“Walbourne-Gough is so aware of and precise with words. . . . He disinters the houses, neighbours, and family from their scrapped, shunted-aside history, while reimaging and releasing his own past. Crow Gulch is superb.” — The Telegram

“Walbourne-Gough captures the woodsmoke and the indifferent slope of the land with a grace and a lust for language. . . [His] love for the land, for his family, and for his own ever-evolving identity shines through like the morning sun on a frozen gulch in Newfoundland, proving himself to be a rising star too bright and promising not to notice.” — Vancouver Weekly

“Engaging, tender, and astute. . . . Crow Gulch shows us a poet with a distinct style and pioint of view.” — Atlantic Books Today

“[An] impressive debut collection. . . . Walbourne-Gough conjures a landscape of harsh, rugged terrain in these vivid, image-driven poems.” — Toronto Star

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