committee of poets and writers the project began to take shape in Alaska. Poems for Alaska’s places are selected through a competitive process and blind judging. All are original work either submitted by the poet or nominated by others. The winning poet receives $150. Emily Wall and Ernestine Hayes both have poems placed at Ketchikan’s Totem Bight State Historical Park, installed in 2013. Emily Wall says that even though she has been published, she was even more excited to have a poem at the park.
This Forest, This Beach, You
By Emily Wall
If you were a cedar you would be waiting for rain to fall or fall harder, relaxing your ten thousand needles. If you were a handful of moss you would be waiting for the light so you could climb further up this rich, fallen log. If you were a blue mussel you would be waiting for the tide to rise to open your lips, to sip. What a world this is. Close your eyes and inhale. Eat a little of this air. Let it fill your belly. Let the taste of this place
Ernestine Hayes at Totem Bight State Historical Park
always rest on your tongue.
The Spoken Forest
by Ernestine Hayes
I was thinking about the forest one day and it came to me— our stories, our songs, our names, our history, our memories are not lost. All these riches are being kept for us by our aunties, our uncles, our grandparents, our relatives— those namesakes who walk and dance wearing robes that make them seem like bears and wolves. Our loved ones. Those beings who live in the spoken forest. They are holding everything for us.
Emily Wall at Totem Bight State Historical Park
A Journal for the North Pacific Rim