Sacrament: Homage to a River

by Rebecca Lawton
photography by Geoff Fricker
Heyday, 2013

153757157.XDu14WJiIn Sacrament: Homage to a River, Geoff Fricker’s atmospheric photographs reveal the geology, salmon runs, fluvial morphology, and human impact of the Sacramento River. In dreamlike black and white, the river takes on mythic proportions, in both its wild eco-systems and its human-made influences. Interwoven with Fricker’s images are Rebecca Lawton’s eloquent descriptions of the beauty of the river and the issues that currently surround it. (from Amazon.com)

  Rebecca Lawton’s  essay collection Reading Water: Lessons from the River was a San Francisco Chronicle Bay Area Bestseller. She currently serves on the board of directors for Friends of the River.

Geoff Fricker’s photographs are in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum of California, the Crocker Art Museum, the Library of Congress, and in other collections in California, Hawai‘i, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas.

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Lines for Birds

poems and paintingspoems & paintings
by Barry Hill & John Wolseley

Lines for Birds is the result of a collaboration between painter John Wolseley and award-winning poet Barry Hill. The book follows the flight paths and habitats of birds, from the Victorian Mallee to the forests of South East Asia, to Japan and the south of France. (Publisher’s Description)

Barry Hill grew up in a coastal, Melbourne suburb in Australia, and since childhood has had a fascination with birds. He writes, “The whole experience of heading west on foot, out across those paddocks miles from the built up area, was inseparable from a sense of being as free as the hawks above us. Fragility and wildness—that’s how birds penetrated me as a kid.”  John Wolseley was born in England and spent much of his childhood outdoors among native birds and eventually migrated to Australia where, as he puts it, “birds and their songs followed me in a succession of homes and campsites in the scrub.”

(Taken from the back cover: “When a bird arrives, quite literally, into our space, it constitutes a burning moment in time, one which instantly seems to possess a memorable vibration. Birds have a natural, real presence. It is unqualified. That is their power. At the same time, their presence is constantly mediated by our culture, which sets off other vibrations, including spiritual ones.”)

No Bottom

41shfpo340l-_sx333_bo1204203200_By Mike Newell
Xoxox Press, 2008

Working on seasonal wildfires in the 1970’s and 1980’s across Alaskan tundra and mountain ranges, wildland firefighter Mike Newell developed a deep appreciation for an arctic and subarctic landscape whose scale dwarfs all human effort. Returning each fire season, Newell found himself increasingly transfixed by the primal allure of the Alaskan bush. Years later, he paused in a bookshop and pulled Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams off the shelf. What he found there began to engender in Newell a sense of what one reader has described as “learned understanding of wild places.” The chance encounter with Lopez’s National Book Award winning non-fiction work began a pattern of inquiry for Newell that, over twenty years later, now culminates in the publication of No Bottom. Newell’s book features an incisive interview with Barry Lopez accompanied by a careful inquiry into Lopez’s short fiction books. Both the interview and the critical inquiry serve well as a primer for those coming new to Barry Lopez’s work and as a valuable source of insight for scholars.

Mike Newell is the author of three books of poetry —Underground Fires, The Unlived Life and Aestivation—and the newly-issued No Bottom. Following his early years as a wildland firefighter, Newell taught at-risk students in public schools and correctional facilities for over two decades, retiring in 2004. After a 19-year hiatus from firefighting in Alaska, he re-certified his fire qualifications in 2000 and went to work on western wildfires. Mike Newell lives and writes in upstate New York. (Publisher’s description)

 

Wild Form & Savage Grammar

By Andrew Schelling

La Alameda Press, 2003. 

These essays are reports from an increasingly important crossroads where art and ecology meet. Andrew Schelling belongs, in the words of Patrick Pritchett, “to a small group of poets who are actively engaged with the rhythms and pulses of the natural world.” He is also the preeminent translator into English of the poetries of ancient India. Wild Form, Savage Grammar collects ten years of essays, many of which investigate the “nature literacy” of American and Asian poetry traditions. Other topics include recollections of Allen Ginsberg and Joanne Kyger, wolf reintroduction in the Rocky Mountains, pilgrimage to Buddhist India, and the possible use of hallucinogens among Paleolithic artists. An underlying commitment to ecology studies, Buddhist teachings, and contemporary poetry weaves the collection together. (Publisher’s description)

Neptune’s Ark: From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas


By David Rains Wallace

Illustrations by Ken Kirkland
University of California Press, 2007. 

Neptune’s Ark illuminates the dramatic saga of evolution spanning 500 million years of marine life along the magnificent Pacific coast of western North America. In an engaging narrative that artfully blends elements of science, history, folklore, and personal observation, renowned naturalist David Rains Wallace reveals a marvelous diversity of creatures, not only modern ones, but those from the far prehistoric past. Mysterious forms have abounded–from giant sea cows, oyster bears, and flightless toothed birds to the orcas, elephant seals, and sea otters of modern times. Wallace tells a story about evolution as well as a tale of the storms, scurvy, and shipwrecks that plagued the coast’s explorers, naturalists, and scientists, many of whom led turbulent or tragic lives, with themes reflected in the wonder and danger of the coast itself. Neptune’s Ark is full of vivid characters–from explorers like Sir Francis Drake and Captain James Cook, to pioneer naturalists including Georg Steller and Charles Scammon, to early paleontologists Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope, and to recent scientists and ecological visionaries. (Publisher’s description)

David Rains Wallace is the author of sixteen books, including Beasts of Eden: Walking Whales, Dawn Horses, and Other Enigmas of Mammal Evolution (UC Press), A New York Times Notable Book; The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution (Twentieth Anniversary Edition, UC Press), winner of the John Burroughs Medal; The Bonehunter’s Revenge: Dinosaurs, Greed, and the Greatest Scientific Feud of the Gilded Age; and The Monkey’s Bridge: Mysteries of Evolution in Central America, A New York Times Notable Book.