Walk Deep: Poetry of Place

Find your next great read in the Nature of Writing Speaker Series featuring presentations by authors, poets and naturalists sharing their new works - presented by Village Books and North Cascades Institute! Abigail Morgan Prout shares her new book Walk Deep: Poems at the Fairhaven bookstore on April 7 at 7 pm. Enjoy this post from Abigail about her writing inspirations found in the forest and fields of Lopez Island in the Salish Sea.

How does our daily relationship with Nature affect our creativity and learning? 

 Every morning, after enjoying a steaming mug of strong sweet tea, I call our dog and head up to walk the same three mile old growth loop trail on the hill above our island home. In this walking meditation, I let my mind be inspired by nature’s patterns, returning home to write out a poem. This forested trail has slowly become one of my closest friends, disclosing its secrets and inspirations to me as we spent time every day together. 

That is how I wrote Walk Deep, an eco-poetry book dedicated to the path I walk daily on Lopez Hill.  These daily poems slowly grew into a collection, and in 2021 I submitted the manuscript to the Homebound Poetry Prize and won!  The book was published in 2022 by Wayfarer, a small press in the Berkshires who plants a tree for every book purchased and whose motto is, “The mainstream is not the only stream”.  That has pretty much been my motto all along.

I grew up as a wild island hippie child on the tiny island of Lopez in the Salish Sea in the very most Northwest corner of Washington state. 

As the daughter of a back-to-the-land hippie mother and Ivy league-activist father, the one thing my divorced parents agreed upon was the power of place, and the perfection of nature. 

Until my late teens, my brother and I were shuttled back and forth between our parents and the land that held them. We spent our summers on our family’s fourth generation cattle ranch in Northern Arizona riding horses, searching for arrowheads and swimming in the inky waters of the precious creek. 

During the school year, we lived in a simple plywood homesteader house with no electricity nor running water, a peeling purple school bus, or a tipi.  We spent our afternoons building forts in the darkened cedar groves and out on the arcing beaches, hefting worn driftwood and chinking our beloved huts with soggy mosses. In the early 80’s, when I was in Fifth grade, we cleared a couple acres of thick PNW woods by hand near the island’s western bluff, and slowly began to build a craftsman cabin- octagonal -my mother’s design- with as few nails as possible. My mom still lives here. 

I was modeled by my parents to listen to, be inspired by, and to protect the land that we love. My mother became a nationally-recognized conservationist, helping to establish Monument status for the San Juan Islands, saving thousands of pristine acres of fragile coastal ecosystem from private development. My father taught High School on the Hopi, Navajo and Apache reservations for 30 years, sharing the rare perspectives of beauty that was privileged to experience as a white man on the rez. 

I have lived on Lopez Island for 35 years now, and I know what it means to belong to a place. Being so intimate with this island – just 14 miles long and 7 miles wide – has given me a rare experience of rootedness and belonging in place, community and family

Walk Deep calls attention to the power that a familiar outer landscape has as a creative companion, mirror, compass, and divination tool for our inner landscape.

This book is a wild whisper from my soul to yours, written to inspire you to walk, feel, and create right where you are in your own life.  Pulling from over 23 years as a leadership coach, I offer this approach to those who want to use writing as a personal transformational tool to grow their leadership. Walk Deep is for fellow travelers who wish to harvest the hard-won gold from their own unique journeys.

Join me on April 7th as I read from Walk Deep at Village Books in Fairhaven at 7:00pm: Click here for free event tickets


Home of Belonging

I am building a home of belonging
from repurposed intention
mossy grey pounded shoreline
tall black sway forests
of fir, damp cedar, alder

I belong to the roaring walls
of solstice fires
the ritual yearly witness of
our island children as they cross
the threshold flower crowned and grown

I belong to the Salish sea,
the teacher of patience as I learn how
to wait for boats
and wait for boats
and wait

I belong to the awe of the tides
ocean of emotion
twice changing in a day
a reminder of how much
is in constant shift under the surface
in and out and through
the narrow ripping straights
pulling between the craggy channels

I belong to the slicing barnacles,
tight black-lipped mussels,
bright sandpaper sea stars,
each one a party favor for the soul

I belong to deep teal kelp alleyways,
woven with sleek shots of seals
gunning for sockeye
breaking the tension
with loud whelps! of air
to gaze with detachment
towards our land-lubbing ways

I belong to the people that came
before us in the crunch of
clam shells underfoot
joyful reverence, burning cedar
sacred in longhouses
sweet scent of hand hewed cedar
singing to the same spirits
that I sang to in the forest
this morning, repurposing intention

I belong to the story
of the Orca whale, Mama Tahlequah,
nosing the sucking currents,
pushing her stillborn calf
around our shale island
for seventeen days without eating,
consumed by grief,
tireless, as if to say,
“See what I have loved and lost.
Do not look away. See this. Feel this.”
Just like her,

I belong to what I love
when we love something
with our whole heart,
we belong to it forever

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