Eva Saulitis

Poet and marine biologist Eva Saulitis has studied orcas in Prince William Sound, Alaska, since 1983 with her partner Craig Matkin. She is the author of Prayer in Wind (poetry); Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas (memoir); Many Ways to Say It (poetry); and Leaving Resurrection (essays). Her work has appeared in many journals, including Crazyhorse, Ecotone, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, On Earth, Salon, and Orion. A recipient of the 2013 Governor’s Award for the Humanities, she lives in Homer, Alaska.

All Books

Becoming Earth

Eva Saulitis

Publication Date: August 1, 2016

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-903-5


In this posthumous collection of essays, Eva Saulitis meditates on martality, the art of living fully, and her advancing illness and nearing death, confronting the waiting question without fear or sentimentality: how are you going to live when you know you are going to die?

After beating breast cancer in her late forties, Eva Saulitis again faces the shadow, knowing this time the result will not end well. Saulitis revels in the nostalgia and secret pleasures that come from knowing it’s all fleeting. She searches for answers from European poets and Buddhist scholars, from women in treament chat rooms, from family, from routine; she looks out into the wilderness, at the salmon dying in the river without the ease of morphine, at stone structures broken from water freezing, expanding inside. Becoming Earth is the account of a woman living life in the presence of death, trying to make sense of a world that will keep going, even though she won’t.


Eva Saulitis’s Becoming Earth is a glorious book. It begins with cancer and then, in elegant prose, unfolds into a meditation on wildness, until it is brimming at its banks with wonder. Never falsely wise, and never ever sentimental or brave, Saulitis left me breathless with realization. Her reflections on human hair, on the differences between restoration and recovery, on the nuances of human relationship as spouses navigate cancer, all surprised and startled me, but the core image of the book is that of a salmon stream stinking with dead and dying fish. Only a wildlife biologist could see in that stream the charged and lovely overflow of life that made it?and see also that the cancer inside her is of the same remarkable wildness. This is spiritual work without any pretense to spirituality. It is what the Buddha would have written had he been trained in wildlife biology. Becoming Earth leaves you, strangely, feeling released, and grateful, and receptive to the world.—Kent Meyers, author of The Work of Wolves

The intricate preciousness of each moment, life, place on earth . . . who has ever told of any of this with more exquisite, moving prose, or compelling tenderness? Thank you forever, Eva Saulitis, for your most astonishing, unflinchingly honest book. Your readers will continue to be moved and changed.—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Transfer

It’s grievous to consider that such a lovely and complex voice as this has been cut short. In Becoming Earth, Eva Saulitis cites Keats definition of negative capability, the capacity to remain in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. She takes herself beyond that restrictive, narrow definition, by acknowledging the terrible facts and reasons for her life?s rapid winding down. But she never lets go of mystery, never stops looking out into the world and looking into the words of other writers that help her live with uncerta inties. Eva Saulitis has a remarkable ability to pivot from hard circumstance to an insistence that we be aware of the rich world she loves. Through the gift of her words, she has made a rich life those who read her will continue to inhabit.—Frank Soos, author of Unpleasantries

Prayer in Wind

Eva Saulitis

Publication Date: January 6, 2015

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-443-6


After a devastating diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, biologist and poet Eva Saulitis found herself gripped by a long-buried childhood urge to pray. Finding little solace in the rote “from the fox-hole please Gods” arising unbidden in her head, she set herself the task of examining the impulse itself, waking every morning in darkness to write poems, driven on by the questions: What is prayer? What am I praying to? What am I praying for? Who is listening? Each day’s poem proposed a new and surprising answer as, over two years, she traced the questions back to her origins, her Latvian roots, her peasant grandmother, her war-haunted father, her secret-bearing mother, her childhood Catholicism, her obsession with the natural world. Moving from inward to outward, among radically different geographies (coastal Alaska, Latvia, and Hawaii) and spiritual influences (Catholicism, mysticism, Zen Buddhism) as well as forms, these biologically precise poems range widely in their search. Unexpectedly, these prayer-poems, forged out of a solitary confrontation with death, take a reader not out of, but deeper into physicality——of the body, the earth, and language itself. As Saulitis learns, what is most desired is not transcendence, but for as long as possible, “her hands thrust deep in the world.”

Praise for Prayer in Wind:

“‘You showed me / a bog candle. // Nothing’s been / the same since then.’ With these simple words, Eva Saulitis shows how true life is lived when tiny changes occur. With her attention attuned to inner and outer landscapes, Eva writes poems that are a testament to the precarious splendor of this world.”—Arthur Sze

“Eva Saulitis explores the web of connections between nature, science, longing, illness, and the continually shifting boundaries of the mind. In these poems, we navigate a course through beauty, terror, and mystery in order to reach a place for which the only maps are prayers.”—Camille Dungy

“Prayer is often an inward gesture; the self in contemplation, in quiet reflection or retreat, eyes closed and hands still. The prayer-poems of Eva Saulitis’s newest book, however, reach out as they reach in. They give attention to the birds, family, friends, machinery, history, skies and horizons. The fact that illness, which can be such an isolating and alienating experience, finally brings the poet into this rich, nuanced relationship with the world is both moving and inspiring. Prayer in Wind is a hymn to life itself and all that conspires to make it meaningful.”—Elizabeth Bradfield

Many Ways to Say It

Eva Saulitis

Publication Date: September 1, 2012

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-242-5


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

Leaving Resurrection

Eva Saulitis

Publication Date: March 1, 2008

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-091-9


Leaving Resurrection is one woman’s love poem to the Alaskan places and people that have taken possession of her soul. Eva Saulitis writes with great honesty about her vulnerability and fears, about her excitement and discoveries, and about her passionate love for the wild. She inspires us with her boldness, she invites us to eagerly accept challenges, she opens us to the willing embrace of adventure, and she takes us into the hidden glories of Alaska as few other writers have done.

These gentle, richly perceptive, beautifully rendered stories take readers straight to the heart of Alaska. And like all fine writing, it leaves you aching for more. Eva Saulitis writes deeply from the spirit of Margaret Murie, and she shows us that the soul of wildness is still very much alive in the north country.

The wild country of Alaska has always attracted women of extraordinary strength and character, women with a keen eye for the land’s beauty and a heart strong enough for its challenges, women equal to the measure of the Alaskan land itself. Eva Saulitis and Leaving Resurrection are wonderful reminders that the tradition lives on.


Eva Saulitis Receives the Governor’s Award

Poet Eva Saulitis, who hails from Homer, Alaska, received the Governor's Award for the Humanities at a ceremony on January 30 at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. She was […]