Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home


By Sexton, Tom

356 p., 1 map, 6 x 9

Format: Paper and electronic

Price: $18.95

Published: 2020

“On the night Li Bai tried to embrace the moon / in its fullness on the surface of the Yangtze River, / blossoms scented the air, and beyond the moon / pale stars powdered the sky. That faint shiver / of white near the surface was a dolphin rising. / I carry a book of his poems whenever I travel, / poems that touch the heart like a gentle snow. / Look, over there in that marsh, a snowy egret rising.”

The day after their wedding, Tom and Sharyn Sexton set off on the more than 4,500-mile journey from Massachusetts to Alaska. Now, more than fifty years later, Tom Sexton is retracing those steps through his exceptional poetry. He describes the communities they passed through and ruminates on the changes, good and bad, that have taken place in the decades since. He still finds beauty in the country and draws transformative hope from the land that connects all of us. Appropriate for a journey that moves from east to west, the Sexton’s real-life voyage is embedded in the imaginary journey of the ancient Chinese poet, Li Bai, from Broad Pass to Polychrome Pass in the Alaska Range.

Tom Sexton is the founder of the creative writing program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, as well as a former poet laureate of Alaska. His books include For the Sake of Light and A Ladder of Cranes, both from the University of Alaska Press.


"Sexton turns his love for the ecosystem into the complexity of tone, rhyme, music—all a reverent presence."
Midwest Book Review