Passenger pigeon. Carolina parakeet. Eskimo curlew. Heath hen. In a timely, moving collection of elegies, Holly J. Hughes gives voice to these and other bird species that no longer fill our skies. If their names sound as a litany of the hundreds of species we’ve lost, these fifteen poems ring as a reminder that their stories are still with us. In clear, well-crafted poems, Hughes serves as witness to these birds’ stories, offering each a poignant account that acts as a cautionary tale for the many species whose habitats now face threats from climate change. In her preface, Hughes introduces us to the birds she first knew and loved, and her impassioned afterword reminds us that it’s not too late to learn from these birds’ extinction and take action to protect the species that remain. “Take note,” she writes. “These birds are singing to us. We must listen.”

Purchase Passings here.


Sailing by Ravens

Gillnetter, mariner and naturalist Holly Hughes has experienced first-hand the practical and philosophical consequences of navigating difficult waters. In Sailing by Ravens, she gathers wisdom gained from 30 seasons working off Alaska’s shores, weaving personal experience and her love of the sea with the history and science of navigation. In this exquisite collection of poems, Hughes deftly navigates “the wavering, certain path” of a woman’s heart, finding that sometimes the best directions to follow are those that come from the natural forces in our lives. These meditations offer waypoints for readers on their own journeys.

Purchase Sailing by Ravens here.

Read a review of Sailing by Ravens by Janie Miller in Poetry Northwest.

The Pen and the Bell

Proposing that contemplation is an active practice that can take place anywhere, anytime, Brenda Miller and Holly J. Hughes share experiences that have helped them bring mindfulness into their writing. Each chapter includes suggested activities, offering writers innovative ways to:

  • create physical and mental space for contemplation and writing
  • heighten awareness as a basis for writing
  • use the ancient art of Lectio Divina (sacred reading)
  • practice writing that articulates the concrete, tactile, sensory world
  • take risks in writing
  • explore personal spiritual traditions in writing
  • pay attention to sensuous details in writing
  • practice gratitude through writing
  • awaken writing through travel, animals, food, and the physical body
  • prepare for writing through ritual
  • write in community

At the heart of any contemplative practice is the ability to slow down and simply observe what is happening, both inside and outside the self. The Pen and the Bell articulates not only the value of slowing down, but how to slow down. The authors describe the power of detailed observation, and encourage their readers to cultivate in themselves the patience for such watchfulness. Through these practices, readers will understand how the big issues—love, death, joy, despair—can be accessed through the concrete, tactile, sensory world, and they will have new avenues to express that world in their writing.

Purchase The Pen and the Bell here.

Read a review of The Pen and the Bell by Mike Dillon in City Living Seattle Bookbeat.

Beyond Forgetting

Beyond Forgetting is an award-winning collection of poetry and short prose about Alzheimer’s disease written by 100 contemporary writers–doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice workers, daughters, sons, wives, and husbands–whose lives have been touched by the disease. Through the transformative power of poetry, their words enable the reader to move “beyond forgetting,” beyond the stereotypical portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease to honor and affirm the dignity of those afflicted. With a moving foreword by poet Tess Gallagher, this anthology forms a richly textured, literary portrait encompassing the full range of the experience of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

Purchase Beyond Forgetting here.

Read a review of Beyond Forgetting by Rachel Hadas in Bellevue Literary Review.

Contemplative Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education

How do we foster in college students the cognitive complexity, ethical development, and personal resolve that are required for living in this “sustainability century”? Tackling these complex and highly interdependent problems requires nuanced interdisciplinary understandings, collective endeavors, systemic solutions, and profound cultural shifts. Contributors in this book present both a rationale as well as a theoretical framework for incorporating reflective and contemplative pedagogies to help students pause, deepen their awareness, think more carefully, and work with complexity in sustainability-focused courses. Also offering a variety of relevant, timely resources for faculty to use in their classrooms, Contemplative Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education serves as a key asset to the efforts of educators to enhance students’ capacities for long-term engagement and resilience in a future where sustainability is vital.

Purchase Contemplative Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education here.