Jenna Butler is the author of three critically acclaimed books of poetry, Seldom Seen Road, Wells, and Aphelion; an award-winning collection of ecological essays, A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge the of Grizzly Trail; and a new travelogue, Magnetic North: Sea Voyage to Svalbard. Her sixth book, a collection of essays titled Revery: A Year of Bees, is forthcoming from Wolsak and Wynn in 2020.
Butler weaves literary and scholarly work together with lived experience on the land. Her research into endangered environments has taken her from America’s Deep South to Ireland’s Ring of Kerry, and from Tenerife to the Arctic Circle, exploring the ways in which we navigate the landscapes we call home. She is a professor of creative writing and environmental writing at Red Deer College, and lives with three resident moose and a den of coyotes on an off-grid organic farm in Alberta’s North Country.
Butler was born in Norwich, England and spent her early years in the tiny Norfolk parish of Forncett St. Peter. Her parents dreamed of creating a sustainable off-grid life, but the necessity of caring for elderly family members in Canada and finding a safe place to raise their multiethnic children spurred her parents to move to Alberta in the early 80s. Butler grew up within Edmonton’s vibrant literary community, but always possessed the desire to return to life on the land. Two decades later, she and her husband began to build Larch Grove, their off-grid organic farm and artists’ retreat, on a quarter section near Barrhead, Alberta.
Aphelion, launched in 2010 by NeWest Press, won the Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award. Butler followed this book with Wells in 2012 from the University of Alberta Press; it was shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ Stephen G. Stephansson Award and nominated for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award. Seldom Seen Road, appearing in 2013 with NeWest Press, was shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ Raymond Souster Memorial Award and the BPAA Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book of the Year Award, and earned Butler a Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award in 2014. A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail, published in 2015 by Wolsak and Wynn, won the Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award and received a Gold Medal for Green Living in the Living Now Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2016 High Plains Book Awards. Butler’s most recent work, the travelogue Magnetic North: Sea Voyage to Svalbard, launched in 2018 with the University of Alberta Press. It won the Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award and was shortlisted for the Alberta Book Awards for Trade Non-Fiction and the Foreword INDIE Awards for Travel, in addition to being longlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction.