Avis Harley was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has an MA from the University of B.C. where she taught poetry in the Language and Literacy Education Department. An elementary school teacher for many years with teaching experience in Canada and England, Avis has also been a writer-in-residence, mentor, and workshop leader. She has given poetry presentations in Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, and Japan. Avis has written several books of poetry for children, and some of her books she has also illustrated. Many of her poems appear in anthologies and magazines, and often focus on the natural world. Her writing reflects a keen interest in experimenting with poetic forms. Avis’ book Africa Acrostics is here (UK) and here (US).
I first found and loved Avis Harley’s work while visiting Canada. Here is one of her poems, a sonnet:
How handy are the monarch’s taste-full feet
reporting where the treasure nectar flows!
Whenever they have savoured something sweet
they phone Proboscis to uncoil its hose.
This gives the butterfly a lovely straw
to carry out her dainty floral sips.
So delicately does she drink and draw,
she never needs to nectar up her lips.
Imagine if we tasted with our toes!
What grounded nectars do you think we’d find?
Soft grass or soil? Cement? Or icy snows?
Cool cotton sheets? The sea? An orange rind?
If we would let our toes seek what we eat,
what smorgasbord would greet our eager feet?
© Avis Harley (From The Monarch’s Progress, all about monarch butterflies, also illustrated by Avis. Published in the U.S. by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press)
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