Inspiring Works From Rural Farms, Forests, & Charming Villages on the Salish Sea

WA State Poet Laureate, Rena Priest 4/22

Listen, to the Wild.




Listen, to the Wild is a literature, science and cultural arts program on the remote San Juan Islands in WA. Island libraries, classrooms, history, science and cultural groups are invited to engage island residents in thought provoking conversation on intersecting themes of eco-literature, environmental and wilderness protection, climate impacts, native lifeways, and community resiliency through related readings, art, music, natue walks, and storytelling.




The remote San Juan Islands are located in the Salish Sea and face environmental and human impact challenges that increasingly illuminate the fragility of this archipelago. Each of the inhabited islands has a distinct personality that has been strongly influenced by the power of place – the landscape, animals, lifeways of Coast Salish peoples, and influences of colonization on unceded lands. 


This cross-disciplinary project is an opportunity to reach across islands to join together, read, listen, view and discuss challenging topics revealed in suggested books. Inter-island explorations are encouraged to discover the Wild in different locations and an online forum will encourage community storytelling about participant expericeces, art, music and poetry.



Listen, to the Wild will stimulate timely conversations and learning experiences hosted online and at libraries, science and cultural organizations to connect residents across the waters and between generations, weaving a container for storytelling, song and art about the animals, plants, weather, land, sea, and choices that bind us together.




Serving Orcas, Lopez, San Juan, Shaw and Waldron Islands



Events presented in conjunction with Listen, to the Wild

April 22, 2023 – Poetry Reading with WA State Poet Laureate, Rena Priest, of the Lummi Nation


Sponsored by Humanities Washington and San Juan Islands Makers Guild

Rena Priest is a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She is the incumbent Washington State Poet Laureate and Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow. Priest is also the recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Indigenous Nations Poets, and the Vadon Foundation.


Her debut collection, Patriarchy Blues, received an American Book Award. Her second collection, Sublime Subliminal, was published as the finalist for the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. Her most recent book, Northwest Know-How: Beaches, includes poems, retellings of legends, and fun descriptions of 29 of the most beloved beaches in Washington and Oregon. Priest’s nonfiction has appeared in High Country News, YES! Magazine, Seattle Met, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. 


Listen, to the Wild – Suggested Readings



 ‘The Bear’ by Andrew Krivak – a short novel exploring isolation, resilience, human choice, interspecies dependency, extinction, death, survival, and intergenerational wisdom. 



‘Wilderness and the American Mind’ by Roderick Nash – history and impacts of Manifest Destiny and deforestation and the pivotal change in thinking that spawned the Environmental Movement as a way back to respecting and protecting the natural world.



‘The Peace of Wild Things: And Other Poems’ by Wendell Berry – evocative poems that speak to our longing to regain a right relation to nature.


San Juan County Authors


‘Walk Deep’ by Abigail Morgan Prout – poetry about a life close to nature on Lopez Island.  Lopez



‘Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squids’ by Thor Hansen – award winning biologist looks at animal adaptations to environmental stress for insight into human response options to climate change. Lopez


Music and Performances


Rafe Perlman’s performance of ‘Kanu’ is an extraordinary musical, visual and inter-species exploration. Music now available on CD. From the chatter or ravens to the howl of the wolf dogs, the story traces a childhood in the Alaskan wilds.   Orcas



Morten Lauridsen, among the leading American choral composers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, draws his inspiration from the serenity of nature. In his summer residence on remote Waldron Island in the San Juan Archipelago many of his greatest works are composed. Waldron


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