This anthology sings of salmon—lamented and praised, hooked, and netted, spawned out and dammed from home; of their magnificence and generosity, of how the fish continue to give and of what they gave.
For this unique collection celebrating salmon, Washington State Poet Laureate and Lummi tribal member Rena Priest gathered poems from more than 150 Washington poets ranging from first graders to tribal elders, all inspired by the Northwest’s beloved, iconic salmon. A diverse chorus of voices, they join together in poems that praise salmon’s heroic journey, beauty, courage, and generosity and witness the threats salmon face from pollution, dams and warming oceans. As Priest writes in her preface: “It is my hope that the poems in this collection will carry into the hearts of readers a wish to preserve and protect the gifts of salmon bestowed by a beautiful living earth; that they will provide the spark of life to carry us into a new cycle. May their good work continue to sing the salmon home.”
“At long last salmon—the soul of the Pacific Northwest—have been
given words to match the ongoing miracle of their existence. With this
anthology, some of the better poets from our corner of the world show
us dimensions of life, legacy, and culture that we might otherwise
overlook in our rushed tumble through the years. It's a book to grow
old with—and a book to share with those just learning the power of
verse to change hearts and minds.” —Timothy Egan, author of The Good Rain
“It is difficult to explain the sacredness of salmon. Salmon center our
lifeways, our sovereignty, and our ceremonies. Our salmon ancestors
have always shared their stories with us, and this beautiful collection,
with its diverse voices and layered experiences, gives us visions and
glimpses of this profound, and yet very practical fish.” —
Danica Sterud Miller (Puyallup), Associate Professor of
American Indian Studies at the University of Washington-Tacoma
Poetry. Poetry Anthology. Native American Studies. Environmental Studies.
Rena Priest is a member of the Lhaq'temish (Lummi) Nation. She is the incumbent Washington State Poet Laureate and Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow. Priest is also the recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Indigenous Nations Poets, and the Vadon Foundation. Her debut collection, Patriarchy Blues, received an American Book Award. Her second collection, Sublime Subliminal, was published as the finalist for the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. Her most recent book, Northwest Know-How: Beaches, includes poems, retellings of legends, and fun descriptions of 29 of the most beloved beaches in Washington and Oregon. Priest's nonfiction has appeared in High Country News, YES! Magazine, Seattle Met, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.