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Email Kit Pepper

About the Author:

Kit Pepper teaches in the Faculty of Education at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C.
She has lived on Gabriola Island for seventeen years.

About the Publisher:

Leaf Press is an independent press located on Vancouver Island, B.C. Other 2009 titles include: Huge Blue by Patrick M. Pilarski, Obituary of Light: the Sangan River Meditations by Susan Musgrave, and Precipitous Signs: a Rain Journal by Leanne Boschman.

Leaf Press
P.O. Box 416
Lantzville, B.C. V0R 2H0


Gabriola Island volunteer finds poverty, poetry in Guatemala

Kit Pepper is ready to talk about the events and impressions she gained while volunteering in the northwestern highlands of Guatemala. There she was aligned with Alianza, a project which responded to grassroots requests for education and health care from the local Mam-speaking women and men of Comitancillo and surrounding rural aldeas, altitude 7000 feet.

Unequivocal beauty and blunt terror, abiding forces in these Guatemalan highlands, stand together in her poems in unsparing and exacting intimacy. This is a landscape where, by day, a machete manifests as a broadside percussive instrument tamping and leveling damp adobe bricks, while at night, becomes a weapon of domestic malice, slashing to the bone the arms and skull of a young mother.

Her writing started out as fragments and sketches in a tiny, torn notebook in a vest pocket as she took a daily run that drew her from the highland plateau down an impossibly steep mountain fissure to a gravel road that meanders parallel to the Rio Chixal.

The poems recount how this morning run, which started as an arduous almost impossible task, surprisingly became an integral part of the her day; how predawn persistence gradually took up residency in legs and lungs. As the run and especially La Gruta, the temple-steep crevasse of descent and ascent, wedged their way into her inner landscape, she became familiar to the children and to the men and women who daily walked the route.

Perhaps most profoundly, and despite efforts to diminish the suffering of one particular street dog, she witnessed the permanent lasso of suffering. "Suffering changed shape before my eyes and bounded along beside me as yet one more wound-festering feral dog."

As her work with Alianza deepened, she began to understand the switchback nature of time and that birth and death are only examples "of the capacity of spirit to rest a moment on earth, in this mist-laden plateau."