Many Ways to Say It, a collection of lyric poems, is a series of prayers, cries, dispatches, observational records, secret messages, weather reports, daily logs, love poems, trespasses, confessions, letters, and songs. A trained marine biologist, Eva Saulitis uses poetry as a tool to push past the laws of biology, objectivity, and detachment to get as close as she can get to the harsh inner and outer place she calls home. Though chosen, for her, place requires constant re-negotiation and exploration. Living for more than two decades in coastal Alaska is like an arranged marriage, rife with ambivalence and risk, desire and loss. The poems portray the difficult process of this kind of marriage, of “marrying this chunk of earth / the seasons, mud, and crack-up.” Close observation of natural phenomena is both the poet’s and the biologist’s method. Thus these poems are dispatches from inner and outer wilderness: white-outs, mountain tops, swamps, muskegs, ecotones, and woods. The lover, a second character in the poems, is human and animal, flesh and mineral, mind and earth, heart and weather. Ultimately, Many Ways to Say It is an unscientific investigation into the wild animal that is the self, its contradictions, urges, demands, and terrors, and its desire for self-definition. But it is only by studying the wild without–through encounters with, say, a moose, a mountain, a coyote, a pond–that the poet comes to terms with the wild, and untouchable, within.
Praise for Many Ways to Say It:
“Naturalist and writer Eva Saulitis’ stunning new book melts (marries) the gorgeous and dangerous natural world with the moist, hidden geography of the female body. These poems are miraculous songs of grief and pressure. They refuse to let the reader (listener) turn away. We can’t refuse to hear the poet’s “many ways of saying” that life comes and comes and comes, no matter what the cost. A wonderful book.”— Hilda Raz, author of What Happens and All Odd and Splendid
“Eva Saulitis is part of nature–seawater and glacial ice, alder marsh and birch forest. She’s part scientist, part oboist, part lover, part Latvian, part Alaskan. Her smart and passionate poems bring us wildly alive. These new poems enact an eternal thirst for mindful, spiritual, fully-embodied ways of thinking and feeling. Open and curious, Eva Saulitis embraces with an “injured and blistered amen” the longings, the terrors, and the glories of our brief time on this ever-changing earth.”— Peggy Shumaker, author of Gnawed Bones, Alaska State Writer Laureate