by Sandra Noel
Sandra Noel follows up her recent books Unraveling the Endless Knot (Middle Creek Publishing) and Love, Island (Goldfish Press) with Hawk Land. Noel's reverence for nature and the other-than-human beings encountered and conversed with on walks and visitations illustrates the power of place, the power of the sacred in nature to comfort, console and council us on right-relationship and the value of the land and the many beings threatened by humanities unbridaled commodification of our environment and natural resources. Poignant poems for our times, well deserving of a place in the cannon of ecological literature rooted in the fertile forests and labyrinthine waterways, wetlands and coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest.
In these personal poems we see Nature bringing solace, as well as the grief we feel as we witness the immensity of climate change. Whatever the subject matter, these are all love poems.
Praise for Hawk Land
Hawk Land plunges us into a world of birds—hawks, owls, red-winged blackbirds—but also magic spells, sacrifice and grace. “I will go forth singing,” the opening poem promises, and despite ice and fire, climate change and extinction, these poems deliver. Like the heron, “too in love with the world / to be cautious,” Noel enchants us, too, into beauty.
—Bethany Reid, author of Sparrow and Body My House
Noel’s Hawk Land is a dripping fern which wets the leg of your jeans as you walk by, leaving the perfect imprint of wetness, of place, of beauty and non-human life upon you, reminding you that yes there is a world out there, there are wars and fires and fear but here there are also lapping waves, herons diving for frogs, mornings runs over neon moss and so much life, life which we risk losing but which is still gorgeous nonetheless. This book contains the fogged dawns and purple nights of the northwest, a breath of humid air and the sound of the waves on stone and deep green, it is a meditation of place and perception and it is as good as a plane ticket north.
—Alexander Shalom Joseph, author of Our Mother, The Mountain
For her profession, Sandra Noel is a sign maker of wild landscapes. On these interpretive signs, she illustrates with visual exactness and composes words that detail an area’s flora, fauna, and natural history and processes. For her poems in Hawk Land, Noel creates her images by using her biologist’s knowledge and her artist’s eye to create works that present nature stunningly. And, most effectively, her images serve to deepen the poems as they include the human, both positive and negative, within these sacred landscapes.
Her poems take us to transcendent places. There is nature: “The first ice glimmers/ along the pond’s edge; / a ring of light and fire.” And her words warn: “Some of my lessons are not the kind/ to tell the children/but then/I also know the red-tail’s story/ and the pond lily and the salmon.” She points to salvation in nature: “I want to be water/ and find my way again/ winding and flowing over obstacles...”
— Ann Spiers, author of Rain Violent (Empty Bowl 2021) and Back Cut (Black Heron 2021)
Sandra Noel works as a free-lance illustrator and graphic designer developing award-winning environmental education posters, brochures, exhibits and interpretive signs. Her poems have appeared in Pontoon, Protest Poems, Buddhist Poetry Review, Bellowing Ark, Elohi Gadugi Journal and others. She is the author of Love, Island (Goldfish Press) and four chapbooks; The Gypsy in my Kitchen (Finish Line Press), Into the Green (Finishing Line Press), The River (Kelsay Press), and Unraveling the Endless Knot (Middle Creek Publishing).
More about Sandra, her art, and poetry at: