Chris Laskowski Photography

I have always had the camera “bug” in my blood.  I started taking family photos at a very early age with a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye.  I went on to use a 110 then upgraded to a 120.  I received a … Read More

Cartography of Water by Mike Burwell

The poems are among the best I have read by an Alaskan poet.

—John Haines, author of Winter News, News From the Glacier: Selected Poems 1960–1980, and For the Centuries End: Poems 1990-1999

Mike Burwell’s poems remind me of the movement of a glacial river, powerful and true. This is the work of a mature poet, one who is sure of his craft and his place in the world. Cartography of Water is a most welcome addition to Alaskan literature.

—Tom Sexton, author of Autumn in the Alaska Range, A Clock With No Hands, For the Sake of the Light, and Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home

Here, in Cartography of Water, the quietude of the untamed, wilder world is kept company by the wilderness of one man’s longing and loud ache. Wolves appear, and bears, and the rusty remnants of old miners’ dreams. Also a suffering son, born into his father’s world on the back of a meteor shower. Against the beauty and terror of life, the poet holds to words which manage, in turn, to capture and hold up for us some remnant of the brief joys of his world, actual and imagined.

—Anne Caston, author of Flying Out With The Wounded, Judah’s Lion, and Prodigal

From the opening poem of this fine collection, where the speaker announces himself coconspirator to the sexy moon that “runs” him, to the final poem’s “still life of leaf and cone, poised in death,” these lyrical meditations repeatedly position themselves vis-à-vis a spectacular, uncontainable, and humbling landscape. The author knows when to listen, how to filter winds and currents, seasons and storms, as his words “fall off the headlands.” This is not “nature poetry,” whatever that is, but a stunning prayer, sensual and secular, to the earth that the poet adores. He wisely fears that earth a little, too, since it claims us all comment or care. I’ve been an admirer of Mike Burwell’s work since I published him in Poems and Plays a dozen years ago, and Cartography of Water is long, long overdue. As this talented poet moves your hands across the “cool waist of the planet,” breathe deeply that dizzying Alaskan heaven, and enjoy.

—Gaylord Brewer, Editor Poems & Plays… Read More

Defiance Street

“Sandra Kleven walks a path of beautiful grit and hard honesty that remains uncompromising throughout. In poems like, ‘Lament for Scott’ and ‘As She Waits for Word on Her Biopsy,’ she gnaws her thoughts on aging to the bone with confessions borne of a poet’s long consideration. Kleven’s prose pieces are wall-to-wall poems. She speaks of the famous Blue Moon tavern, of the birth of the second half of the 20th century, and of Theodore Roethke better than he ever did. Bottom line? When I read Sandra Kleven’s lines, ‘She went after boys who looked like Jesus, / sandaled, contemplative, guys with that / crucified look,’ I knew I’d need to say little else about Defiance Street besides: You must give this book a chance.”

—Nathan Brown… Read More

Oasis Earth

Oasis Earth confirms that we are destroying the biosphere of our Home Planet. We know the causes, consequences, and solutions to this existential crisis, yet we’ve failed to correct it. We are out of time: this decade is our last best chance to save a habitable Earth. Rich with insights from those who have viewed our planet from space and evocative images from the U.N. Environment Program’s international photographic competitions, NASA, Greenpeace and others, Oasis Earth weaves a journey through the extraordinary diversity of life on Earth, the interrelated causes of global ecological collapse, and the path to a livable future.

“Oasis Earth is a remarkable summary of the miracle that is life on the earth. At the same time, it describes how our ignorance is violating this phenomenal mystery in every possible way. It clearly instructs us as to who and what we need to become if we are to reverse our collective madness and become the true denizens we once were and can become again.”

—Paul Hawken, Author of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

“I have been diving and exploring the oceans for over 74 years, ever since my father pushed me overboard with a tank on my back. It’s been my privilege to share with the next generation, including my son and daughter Fabien and Celine, the fact that all plants and animals, including us, are connected and depend upon one water system, as detailed in Oasis Earth. It’s why I want everyone to know, if you protect the ocean you protect yourself.”

—Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society Inc.

“Rick Steiner’s Oasis Earth is a book of great importance at this moment in human and planetary history. We are at a crossroads and one way or another, dramatic changes are coming. Humanity can no longer pursue a path of endless population and economic growth, violence and destruction of nature and unchecked carbon emissions without suffering devastating consequences, both to ourselves and the millions of species with whom we share this planet, our only home. The author is an inspired teacher and his lesson is one that desperately needs to be heard. From ecological decline to war and conflict; from wealth inequality to the widely felt malaise with modern life, Steiner understands the importance of recognizing the many converging crises that we must confront. Fortunately, we still have time to choose the future we all want and Steiner shows clearly what is needed to move from the destruction and excess of the Anthropocene to the resilience and stability of the ‘Ecocene’. We can do so much better and Steiner shows us how. Read this book. Be alarmed. Then take action.”

—Mark Brooks, World Wildlife Fund-Canada

“The window of opportunity is closing. What we do, or fail to do, in the next decade will determine the fate of life on Earth and human civilization. Oasis Earth illuminates the way forward with the light of beauty, reason and hope.”

—Kierán Suckling, Executive Director, Center for Biological Diversity

“Professor Steiner presents a stark and confronting picture of the way in which modern life takes the resilience and bounty of our precious planet for granted. Born of a deep love for the earth and its people’s, the solutions offered here are no-brainers. Decision-makers, community leaders, citizens – please pay heed and act – in time.”

—Dr. Helen Rosenbaum, Deep Sea Mining Campaign, Australia… Read More

Echolocation by Kristin Berger

From both the visible and invisible margins of life, from the Oregon forest to high desert, from lake to river, Kristin Berger’s new book of poems, Echolocation, seeks to reconcile memory and loss with a world still very much alive and beating. In a time of diminishing truth and light, this book locates beauty and holds space for its returning.

“If we have forgotten that poetry is a call sent out into the world to rediscover and name our hearts, minds, and bodies, Kristin Berger’s beautiful new book of poems reminds us of poetry’s good and necessary work. Berger’s Echolocation leads us into that work, honestly and elegantly inviting us to know our own lives and landscapes.”

—Annie Lighthart, author of Lantern and Iron String… Read More

Apportioning the Light

Poems so compressed the page itself trembles. So brave, in dark places, the reader clutches the poet’s sure hand. Apportioning the Light shines. It shines.

“A life lived to its fullest, a craft perfected so that it seems seamless, the highest compliment I can give to any writer. I read it from its beginning to its end without putting it down. Kudos to Cirque for publishing Apportioning the Light.”

—Tom Sexton, Alaska Poet Laureate




 … Read More


With a deft touch, Carey Taylor’s poems acknowledge all that drifts to dust as well as the lure of possibility in every new start. Firmly rooted in the road of observation these poems merge onto a highway we all must travel—towards the fleeing nature of all things.

“Carey Taylor’s The Lure of Impermanence embraces many subjects, from tending orchards and heirloom roses, to leaving home in a white Ford Falcon, to imaginative explorations of Sylvia Plath and infrared astronomy. These poems, firmly rooted in the Pacific Northwest, flow with clearly defined imagistic lines and understatement. The use of well-timed pauses—using caesuras, line breaks, and the white space of the page—offer the reader time to breathe and muse. Intertwining images with the sounds of language itself, Taylor creates a haunting layering of experience and emotion, allowing the reader to swim, “…Then scan swirl of tied in that vast marine,/ Beg briny air to blow us back to green.” (from “Swimming Laps (And Because You Loved Sonnets)”). I’m grateful for the immersion this book offers.”

—Christianne Balk, author of The Holding Hours

“Carey Taylor’s The Lure of Impermanence, is an impressive debut collection of poetry that deeply satisfies the ear and the mind: there is a welcomed preciseness in the crisp language, a choice selection of sharp images, a subtle ever-present musicality. There is an obvious love of storytelling. Even in the shortest poem in the book, “Not Another Morning,” from the title to the closing line the implied lonesome story is told in thirty well-chosen words: “Not Another Morning//A white cup./A silver kettle./Ablack crow.//A thick heart./A crust of bread. A blue toe.//A mossy bed./Track of bear./The sun low.” There is power in the understatement. Such masterful simplicity is never easy. Taylor brings an aesthetic refinement—a clarity to the dim light and darkness and glare of the world in which we live.”

—Gary Copeland Lilley, author of The Bushman’s Medicine Show

“Reading Carey Taylor’s poetry is like walking the beach with a friend who pays attention to everything—the weather, water, rocks, shells, and shore-life—and enriches your experience of the once familiar with her unique insight, images, and inviting leaps of language. Surprising and delightful. Reach for The Lure of Impermanence and you’ll relish a new friendship.’

—Cathy Warner, author of Burnt Offerings… Read More

Like Painted Kites & Collected Works

“Whether the journey is to Southeast Asia, Southwest Alaska, or into the depths of the human heart, Clif Bates has a knack for illuminating the exotic within the ordinary. Celebrating our shared humanity, this engaging collection of poetry and prose will have you begging for more.”

—Deb Vanasse, author of Cold Spell and Wealth Woman

Like Painted Kites & Collected Works by Clifton Bates draws on material from Asia, Alaska and elsewhere. Bates offers a journey into tensions and acceptance across cultures. The collection is set off by marvelous artwork that indeed paints the kite canvas that oversees the anthology. It’s reading to be enjoyed sitting in your favorite chair or under a tree outside or perhaps in a foreign cafe or bar. Take it slow. It’s not a dogsled race. It’s like a slice of pie. Take one bite at a time.

—Jerry McDonnell, writer, actor, educator

Like painted kites in flight, this book offers tales in many colors and forms: poetry, personal essay, fiction, and script. In Part I, Bates reflects on odd sights, experiences and characters in Thailand, Macau, and Hong Kong, including a caged bear with a mystic’s eyes; an aged monk; a jazz pianist; a broken-hearted woman. In Part II, Bates writes of Bush Alaska where fictional yet true-to-life vignettes portray Yup’ik Kim-Boy, a local “everyman,” from a teen through old age. Even readers unfamiliar with Native Alaskan villages or Yup’ik culture will sense the scenery, smells, cold, and isolation, as well as feel Kim-boy’s closeness, understand his alcohol abuse, and rejoice in who he becomes when he overcomes it.”

—Gretchen Phelps, author of The Fox Boy… Read More

Athabaskan Fractal

“Mystical and visual—Karla Linn Merrifield’s latest volume of poems, Athabaskan Fractal, takes the reader on a monumental journey across the Far North of the American continent. Here is a collection that is surprisingly beautiful. Here is a reverence for nature where lush descriptions abound. Here is life in all its extravagance and austerity conveyed in poems of intimate details of texture and form and set against the vast sweep of endless space from sea to shining sea. You’ll quickly discover why Merrifield is widely regarded as a supreme observer of the Earth’s majesty.”

“In poems of intimacy and celebration, elegy and generous mythologizing, Karla LinnMerrifield’s new book is teeming with the ‘minute particulars’ of her Alaskan travels. Here you will find that the fir trees, the mists, the creatures, the stones themselves come lovingly alive. But in our 21st-century world of ecospheric drama and disarray, the ‘field guide’ reveries are shot through with the stark realities of our desecrating human footprint. Athabaskan Fractal will take you places that Frommer’s and Lonely Planet can only dream of!”

—Ralph Black, Professor of English, The College at Brockport (SUNY), and author of Turning Over the Earth

“‘If I do not drown/ in the snowmelt stream/ I will become the mountain.’ This evocative line from Karla Linn Merrifield’s passionate ode to the Far North, Athabaskan Fractal, sets the theme of the poet’s reverence for nature as well as her transmogrification into the natural wonders themselves, in which she sometimes becomes that which she celebrates. Lush descriptions abound: “Rampant indigo peavines/ & buttery compositae in the timbered gloam/ became all the blue & yellow I could hold,” and the poet’s prescriptive: “Do not be afraid of the universe/ even when rainbows die in oil spills/ & wolves are changed to leashes.” Merrifield is widely regarded as a supreme observer of the Earth’s majesty; this new collection is surprisingly beautiful.”

—Laury A. Egan, author of Presence & Absence

“To encounter the Far North is to confront great contrast: the seasonal flux of darkness and light, life in all its extravagance and austerity, intimate details of texture and form set against the vast sweep of endless space. And the North also is a place in which people are simultaneously at home in, and at war with, the world—a region warming at twice the global average. In Athabaskan Fractal, Karla Linn Merrifield traverses this world of wonder and desire, sadness and loss. In her poems, she focuses her (and our) attention on the beauty, depth, and expanses of this landscape and its residents, and the terrible tragedy wrought by our hydrocarbon-fueled dreams.”

—Christopher Norment, professor of environmental science and ecology, The College at Brockport (SUNY), and author of Return to Warden’s Grove: Science, Desire, and the Lives of Sparrows… Read More

Holy Ghost Town by Tim Sherry

Tim Sherry’s latest volume of poems, Holy Ghost Town, tells the story of a place in the wilderness that is more than trees. In plainspoken language, he takes the reader to Holden Village, an abandoned mining town turned into a Lutheran retreat center in the North Cascades of Washington state. And there he explores the balance between faith and doubt, escape and reality, history and hyperbole, the serious and the hilarious – in the wilderness, a place to find answers beyond the questions of everyday life.

“Holy Ghost Town is a remarkable book-length evocation of a very special place. In the genre of place writing, it compares to “Paterson” by William Carlos Williams. Whereas Williams focused on the city in the person, Sherry gives voice to the community in the person, the community that embraces its interrelatedness with the other-than-human world. I admire how these poems honor and enact grace, ecology, hilarity, and diversity. As they seek divinity, they do not shy from religious language and ritual. At the same time, the wisdom offered here tells us that sometimes we need to skip church and follow our feet into the woods where stillness, silence, and attention become prayers in the divine mystery of wilderness.”

—Derek Sheffield, author of Through the Second Skin

Tim Sherry knows the perils of belief. Anyone who writes poems today about a wilderness Bible camp has already leaped well above the high bar for risk factor. Marry that to the occasional stubborn doubt, the nagging question, and you have a faith forged in gnarly fires, one that puts boot to both internal and external trails. Whether assessing his own god-like nature in a mirror or marveling at a girl whose t-shirt says Religion Sucks Sometimes Too, in this paean to his beloved Holden Village and the wild lands that birthed it, Sherry keeps adjusting the scales as he seeks the sweet spot of balance. Don’t let the plainspoken style of Holy Ghost Town deceive you. Its depths mirror Lake Chelan, the water he travels to access this remote Cascade retreat. Take the plunge. Come up cleansed, yes, but also with more chuckles than you have any right to expect.”

—Peter Ludwin, author of Gone to Gold Mountain

“In Holy Ghost Town, Tim Sherry tells the story of a place in the wilderness that is much more than beautiful landscape. In words clear and full of tenderness, he describes an abandoned mining town turned into a Lutheran retreat center that I and all who go there know as a place of reflection and transformation. Sometimes he puts words to what I have felt and couldn’t express on my own. Other times he sheds light on something I have seen differently or not at all. It is poetry in which I can lose myself and find myself. Sherry’s poetry reflects balance between faith and doubt, escape and reality, history and hyperbole, the serious and hilarious, that all who have been there know to be Holden Village, ‘a holy ghost town, a metaphor in the mountains'”

—Elaine Harrison, assistant to the directors at Holden Village

“The story of Holden Village told in Tim Sherry’s Holy Ghost Town is one you might call serendipitous, though the visitors who come each year to the old mining town, now an ecumenical Christian retreat center in the north Cascades, know it as a place to shed worries, make room for peace of mind, marvel at the beauty of God’s wilderness, and live the core values of the Holden community. It is a stirring history of the grand dreams, the love of wilderness, and faith in God that every morning herald a bright new day when one out hiking at Holden might imagine being “right at heaven’s door” around the next bend in the trail.”

—Marjorie Rommel, 2016-17 Auburn poet laureate… Read More

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