Book details

Publication date: July 2018
Features: 32 B&W photographs, map
Series: Wayfarer
Keywords: Environment; Svalbard archipelago; Norway; boreal forest; sailing; sailboat; climate change; north; polar; conservation; writer; feminist; travel; women
Subject(s): TRAVEL / Essays & Travelogues, Creative Writing, Creative Writing / Travel Literature, Creative Writing, Creative Writing / Literary Nonfiction, Creative Writing, Creative Writing / Auto/biography & Memoir, The North / Environment / Travel / Women's Studies, SCIENCE / Global Warming & Climate Change, SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Ecology, Climate change, Environment; Svalbard archipelago; Norway; boreal forest; sailing; sailboat; climate change; north; polar; conservation; writer; feminist; travel; women, Ecological science, the Biosphere, LITERARY COLLECTIONS / Canadian, Arctic, Black Authors and Authors of Colour, Travel
Publisher(s): The University of Alberta Press

Jenna Butler. Jenna Butler is a poet, professor, essayist, and organic farmer from northern Alberta. She teaches Creative Writing at Red Deer College. Her books include Seldom Seen Road, Magnetic North, Wells, Aphelion, and an award-winning collection of ecological essays, A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail. Her memoir, Revery: A Year of Bees, was a finalist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-fiction.

# 7 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, August 16, 2018

"Magnetic North is a beautiful little book, full of moments of intense vision, but it’s also another ecological warning, couched in a poet’s deep understanding of what she has seen & recorded in our now changing north. Wholly engaging both emotionally & intellectually, it’s one of those books that truly adds to our understanding of the world we live in & continue to wound." [Full review at]

Douglas Barbour, Eclectic Ruckus

"The remote island of Spitsbergen, on Norway’s northern Svalbard archipelago, provides the setting for Butler’s evocative ruminations on the harsh beauty at the edge of the world.... Butler’s book is not a standard travel narrative; rather, she wields poetic prose to describe a place that most humans will never visit. The result is highly recommended for lovers of poetry and nature writing."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

# 3 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, December 01, 2018

# 1 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, January 13, 2019

Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers

"[Jenna Butler is an] acute observer and a precise and cogent writer... [Hers] is a journey motivated by curiosity about the north, and a longing for sights to be seen before they disappear forever. Her descriptions of settlements scattered between mainland Norway and the Arctic Circle are evocative: her prose is poetic, and her poems (interspersed in the text) are visual and concrete." [Full review at]

Hilary Turner, Canadian Literature

“…an alternate view of the grandeur of Arctic nature, the paradox of Russian mining settlements in an area under Norwegian sovereignty, the critically endangered nature of the islands, how people respond to the extreme environment and living conditions in the Arctic, and a deep personal reflection on traveling to this part of the globe…” Ingo Heidbrink, The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord, Vol. XXVIII, No. 4 [Full review at]

Ingo Heidbrink, The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord

"Magnetic North is a delight, perfect for amateur botanists, naturalists or simply admirers of Butler's astonishing gifts as a poet."

Shirley Roburn, Alberta Views

This is a beautiful series of portraits of place and time and captures ecological shifts, women who work in the places they're anchored and her own body’s experience of being on boat, dinghy and icy land.

Yvonne Blomer, 49th Shelf, March 28, 2022

The ecologically-centered nonfiction vignettes are lyric, descriptive and brimming with carefully curated sensory detail. This is an instantly likable, highly intelligent, and empathetic narrator, one that we can trust from beginning to end.

Brenda Schmidt, poet

“Jenna Butler takes us to the Norwegian Arctic, providing the reader with starkly vivid, incisive, and memorable images of its raw, unforgiving nature, the profound effects of what humans are doing to the North, and the equally powerful effects on the author herself. Her writing is beautiful, spare, inventive, and carved out of the experience with razor-sharp clarity.”

Lorri Neilsen Glenn, award-winning author, poet, editor, and teacher

AUPresses Book, Jacket, & Journal Show - Poetry and Literature, United States
Banff Mountain Book Competition; Mountain & Wilderness Literature – Fiction & Poetry, Canada
Trade Non-Fiction | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta, Canada
INDIE Book of the Year Awards (Travel) | Foreword Reviews, United States
xi The Journey
1 Lines Toward Ice
7 Pyramiden
13 Ornithomancy
19 Night
23 Bone
29 The Men at the Edge of the World
35 She Becomes the Ocean
41 Arctic by Air
47 Afloat
53 Barentsburg
59 Cusp
65 Postcard from Svalbard
71 At the Face
77 Threads
83 Leaving Days
89 Song to the Boreal
ISBNs: 9781772123821 978-1-77212-382-1 Title: magnetic north ISBNs: 9781772124217 978-1-77212-421-7 Title: magnetic north ISBNs: 9781772124231 978-1-77212-423-1 Title: magnetic north ISBNs: 9781772124224 978-1-77212-422-4 Title: magnetic north ISBNs: 9781772125801 978-1-77212-580-1 Title: magnetic north