Creating art and writing poetry are creative practices that come between waking and being awake, in a place of doubt and dream, struggle and clarity. Poetic practice is both a discipline and a gift. Creative practice is a demanding and enchanting journey. Our art reminds us who we are each morning, and how we are interconnected with the cosmos.
I will walk down your mountain
Under the morning sun
A Kermode Bear
Lumbers across Princess Royal Island
Meet the Poet and the Artist
GWENDOLYN MORGAN learned the names of birds and wildflowers and inherited paint brushes and boxes from her grandmothers. With an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and an M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union, she has been a recipient of artist and writing residencies at Artsmith, Caldera, Centrum, and Soapstone. Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea, her first book of poems, was a winner of the Wild Earth Poetry Prize, Hiraeth Press. Her poems have appeared in: CALYX, Dakotah, Kalliope, Kinesis, Mudfish, Tributaries: A Journal of Nature Writing, The Wayfarer as well as Dawn Songs: A Birdwatcher’s Field Guide to Poetic Migration, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, and other anthologies, blogs and literary journals. Snowy Owls, Egrets and Unexpected Graces is a Nautilus Gold Winner in Poetry and a Foreward Indies Book of the Year Finalist in the Nature Category. Flight Feathers, Wayfarer Books, is a Nautilus Gold Winner in Lyric Prose. Gwendolyn and Judy A. Rose, her spouse, share their home and mindfulness walks with Naomi Isabella, a rescued Cardigan Corgi & Chesapeake Retriever mix.
All the five species of Pacific Salmon
Spawn in the streams.
Notice the vibrational patterns of color, light,
the color of the fur of the white bear,
A high frequency of a unique mutation
In a pigmentation gene.
Some people have golden-yellow energy
Full of radiance, hope, strength
Praise for my books
In this fine collection of poetry and short prose, poet Gwendolyn Morgan skillfully juxtaposes extreme times with ordinary observation. Her poems demand we bear unflinching witness to humankind’s inhumanity and suffering. But standing in steadfast opposition to each dirge is the reprieve of dailiness (“I put spinach tortillas in our cart. Yellow peaches. Sweet Walla Walla onions.”) and the poet’s exquisitely rendered evidence of the constancy and beauty of nature (“Each day birds remind me who I am.”). Over and again, Morgan guides us to an awareness of the “wisdom of grief, the gratitude of wood sorrel and salal”. The stolid, unembellished constancy of nature’s presence in these poems, and the simple acts of living and loving, show us the way forward if we would but heed this keen and passionate observer of the best and the worst.
Ruby Hansen Murray
“Flight Feathers is an important book, essential in time of Covid-19 and climate disaster. It reflects the grieving parts of us all and the sustenance of the natural world like a maternal heartbeat weaving in and out of consciousness. It offers the deep comfort that comes from naming both pain and grace, invokes the “chalice of golden chanterelles” that hold us all. Poems range between this coast and the other, grounding us where we live: a young man refusing to wear a mask, the privilege of tilth certified organic. Poems reflect walks between the forest and professionals providing compassionate care for the dying under fluorescent lights, the visceral presence of loose stool, coffee, bleach and lavender. Morgan reminds us of deeper rifts, where “spiritual distress smells like sepsis.” She finds, and brings us, a counterpoint to despair in the watershed, the woods where she walks. Flight Feathers is a book I’ll reach for again and again. It is a witness to Covid time, racism, global violence and the red fox in the suburban watershed, a gift to us all.”
Ecstatic, meditative, and deeply wise, Gwendolyn Morgan’s Flight Feathers is a clarion call of hope, renewal, and healing based in the sacrality of nature and the lyric tradition. “A grateful heart illuminates the space around it”: her powerful voice rises above the din of our political, ecological, and apocalyptic crises, as a soothsayer and visionary witness for our times.
To open this precious book is to be transported into a realm where time bursts into life, nature reveals itself as family, and the thirst for justice unfolds into joy. “How the wind lifts the bones the melodies”! These poems are true gifts of love.
Like Whimbrels, Willets,
And Red knots.
Perhaps the white bear
Is a salmon bear.
April 22nd, 2022
Flight Feathers is a collection steeped in remembrance. Avian flight feathers are anchored to bone with ligaments to offer courageous lift of wings. In a traumatic time of poly crisis and upheaval, Gwendolyn Morgan’s poetry illuminates natural landscapes, brings us to renewed hope. In a season of transition, we are offered a place to honor our collective grief and gratitude.
“What Gwendolyn Morgan has wrought with these soulful poems is an invitation to listen and to bear witness to the multiple and intricate ways we humans are connected to each other across languages and cultures and to all of creation. Morgan reminds us that light glows inside us and inside each living thing be it flora or fauna. Everywhere in these vital poems there is light, wonder, and healing.”
Claudia Castro Luna
Washington State Poet Laureate (2018-2021)
Author of One River, A Thousand Voices.
She likes Elder Berries, Salmon Berries,
Sockeye, Yellow Cedar, Sitka Spruce.
Dunlins, shore birds, feathers,
She watches them fly in a formation.
A rainbow is caused by the refraction of light
Listen to the sound of water
The smell of damp earth
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the spaces between the notes
Of the Chestnut-backed Chickadee.
Pacific Hemlock, Grand Fir
Obsidian, Garnet, red river rock.
The bear wades in the stream before you, splashes.