Synopses & Reviews
“Eva Saulitis is a poet who inhabits the planet with all her senses attuned. Many Ways to Say It is a collection rich with acute observation of the non-human denizens of the world, botanical, animal, mineral, and rich in characters, too, from Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy, to Shakespeare’s Cordelia. These poems metamorphose through the book in form and voice, holding image and thought up to an endless light, examining and singing all the refractions and possibilities. Many Ways to Say It is a stunning debut collection of poems we readers can trust and inhabit and relish.”—Derick Burleson, author of Ejo and Never Night
“Since reading Eva Saulitis’ book of essays, Leaving Resurrection, I have been eager to see more of her work. Now, this collection of poems offers a whole and wholly different engagement with the world. The ‘Injured and blistered amen’ of Many Ways to Say It blends a naturalist’s observations, interior investigation, and deep wonder in poems that revel in and interrogate the world they spring from. Language and sound echo in new ways (‘the kettle’s hiss, the GPS’), and there’s a formal range that amplifies the pleasure of the poems’ subjects. The Cordelia poems, which engage with muskeg, domesticity, and the life of Linnaeus, are the core of this book. Here, Saulitis shows how her verse grows from the physical world (red squirrel, skunk cabbage, mending) and into the historic, emotional, and literary. It’s a reach and scope that thrills. What strikes me is the deliberate unfinishment of many of the poems—Saulitis uses form and syntax to illustrate that her work is part of a larger, ongoing story. Reading the poems of this book is like dipping into a river, looking around under water, and then rising to breathe again, refreshed and quickened. —Elizabeth Bradfield, author of Interpretive Work and Approaching Ice
“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
refuseto 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
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.
About the Author
Eva Saulitis, an essayist, poet, and marine biologist, has studied the killer whales of Prince William Sound, Alaska for 25 years. Her first book, Leaving Resurrection: Chronicles of a Whale Scientist (Boreal Books/Red Hen Press, 2008), was a finalist for the Tupelo Press Non-Fiction Prize and the ForeWord Book Award. Her second non-fiction book, Into Great Silence, is forthcoming from Beacon Press. A recipient of writing fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation and the Alaska State Council on the Arts, she is an associate professor in the University of Alaska Low-Residency MFA program.