Sailing by Ravens
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Gillnetter, mariner and naturalist Holly Hughes has experienced first-hand the practical and philosophical consequences of navigating difficult waters. In Sailing by Ravens, she gathers wisdom gained from 30 seasons working off Alaska's shores, weaving personal experience and her love of the sea with the history and science of navigation. In this exquisite collection of poems, Hughes deftly navigates “the wavering, certain path” of a woman’s heart, finding that sometimes the best directions to follow are those that come from the natural forces in our lives. These meditations offer waypoints for readers on their own journeys.
"These poems of the sea begin with a school girl’s fascination for “the blue sea holding
captive all the land” and end as the seasoned sailor learns that “even the old charts/
can’t navigate the wild shoals of your heart.” Along the way we are shipmates through
days of fishing, sailing, loving, and losing as Hughes navigates the lure, lore, and
loneliness of a sea that is both natural force and metaphor. I love Sailing by Ravens with its salt of the sea, salt of our deepest lives."
—Gary Thompson, author of One Thing After Another
"Hughes has worked these poems into a cycle that begins and ends on inward looking
notes, but that ranges widely in the pages between, exploring navigation and life
on the high seas as an essential aspect of the human experience. Collectively, the
individual pieces manage to convey both the enormity of the planet and the universe
beyond which setting sail opens one up to, while capturing the stiflingly claustrophobic
feel of being in a tiny craft alone on the ocean. . . . This is a remarkably well
composed, tightly written collection of brief poems that open up worlds."
—Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
"Hughes uses every aspect of the sea – navigation, map making, sailing – to chart
her poetry. Hers is a record of Alaska’s fish industry and the strong hearts that
steer it. Yet, the book is about vulnerability at sea – with all the remote sensing
which that entails; and, how the work of living its boundaries and their challenges
justifies our inner discoveries."
—Washington Independent Review of Books
"It’s a rare pleasure to come upon a book so well crafted, so unified in theme, so
honest and true to a poet’s heart. Sailing by Ravens is a remarkable voyage. Book passage as soon as you can."
—The Raven Chronicles
"An immersion into nautical language and life, and an exploration of what it means
to live with direction and drift, two opposing energies that tug our human lives."