Monday 3 December 2012


The Han Shan Poetry Project:  McLellan Park Forest East

You are cordially invited to visit a site specific installation of tree poems on Saturday, December 8 from 1-3 pm.  This is one of a series of arts initiatives to raise awareness of the McLellan Forest East, on 257A Street just north of 84 Avenue.

Poets across Canada, including quite a few Governor General’s Award winners, responded to a call from Langley poet Susan McCaslin to submit poems celebrating trees in an effort to protect a unique forest just outside the heritage community of Fort Langley, British Columbia. 

More than one hundred and fifty poems were submitted over a five day period from established and emerging poets of all ages, and are now suspended from the trees in the hope that the voices of poets will be considered when Langley council decides the fate of the forest on December 17, 2012.

The installation was inspired by Han Shan, a Chinese hermit poet from the Tang Dynasty era over 1,000 years ago, who wrote poems on trees and rocks, living respectfully with nature. 

The forest display includes poems by Governor General’s Award winners E. D. Blodgett, David Zieroth, Don Domanski, Stephanie Bolster, Don McKay, Joy Kogawa (The Order of Canada), Anne Simpson (Griffin Poetry Prize), and a diversity of established, emerging, and beginning writers.  Poems have been received from Oregon, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Australia, the UK, and Turkey and continue to flood in.

The land in question, known locally as McLellan Park Forest East, is publicly owned by Langley township but is slated to be sold off to partially fund a recreation centre and pool if a small group of residents called WOLF (Watchers of Langley Forests) cannot come up with 3 million dollars by December 17.  It has been difficult for WOLF to raise the funds because supporters feel the forest is already owned by the public and that Langley should just reconsider selling it.  The total cost of the recreation centre is estimated at $35 million.
McCaslin says, “These poems express how poets respond to the creative outpouring of nature that encompasses and sustains us.  It’s about putting human language beside the larger language of nature and the planet. They have been offered specifically for the protection of this remarkable, biologically diverse forest. ”
The name Han Shan translates as “Cold Mountain,” which is also the area in the district of T'ien-t'ai in China where the poet lived.  Han Shan was the inspiration for the Cold Mountain School of west coast beatnik writers, such as Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac. 

McLellan Forest is a small fragment of what once existed throughout the Fraser Valley before over a century of settlement.  Very little of this ecosystem has been protected in its natural state.

A provincial biologist has notified Langley council that the property in question is “ecologically unique,” features “high biodiversity value” and has exceptional value as habitat for species at risk, such as the Pacific water shrew and Oregon spotted frog. 

Guided walks are led by WOLF every Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.


Further information about the forest may be found at:


  1. All the best with your efforts to save this forest!

  2. a beautiful project to draw attention to the sad shortsightedness that political decisions are based on. go and see it. fill your heart with the gifts of the woods and the words.