A new, full-length book of poetry by islander Sandra Noel, “Love, Island,” is aptly titled — the book is a meditative and descriptive love song to the natural beauty of Vashon, where the poet has lived for 40 years.
The book and Noel’s other accomplishments as a poet have earned accolades from esteemed admirers.
“Her words, her love of the natural world, her insight and wisdom will carry you away into a magical, real world where observer and observed and reader are one,” said Jerry Austin, editor of Bellowing Ark Poetry journal. “She is one of my favorite nature poets writing today.”
“Poems, well perhaps, but to me, these are also my grandmother’s dried apples, these are my mother’s sweet preserved jams, these are last summer’s blackberries, and I know this because, like Noel, “I know light /when it dawns on me,” said David Anthony Martin, founding editor of Middle Creek Publishing and the author of “Bijoux” and “The Ground Nest.”
Noel is a much-published poet, with her verse appearing in Pontoon, Protest Poems, Buddhist Poetry Review, Bellowing Ark, Elohi Gadugi Journal and others. She is the author of four chapbooks, “The Gypsy in my Kitchen,” and “Into the Green,” (Finishing Line Press), “The River,” (Kelsay Press), and “Unraveling the Endless Knot,” (Middle Creek Publishing & Audio). “Love, Island” is a full-length book published by Goldfish Press.
Though not a native of the Pacific Northwest, Noel now has deep roots here. She moved to Vashon after graduating from Western Washington University in 1981 with a degree in marine biology.
Since then, Vashon’s beaches, forests and miles of trails have inspired Noel’s work as a poet, and also informed her career as a freelance illustrator, graphic designer and interpretive writer working for her own company, Noel Design, LLC., which she established in 1988.
Through her work with that company, Noel has created interpretative signage that graces scenic trails in places including the Snoqualmie National Forest and North Cascades National Park, and on Vashon, in Island Center Forest. Islanders have also long seen her work in town — she created Vashon Festival posters and cards, sold at the Strawberry Festivals for more than 20 years.
In addition to all this, she has also contributed her artistic and design skills as a volunteer for non-profit conservation organizations including Alliance for Tompotika, (AlTo) a conservation education non-profit working in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
“Love, Island” is available for sale at Vashon Bookshop and Starving Artists Work, and may also be available soon at Vashon’s Thriftway, where Noel’s note cards, cups and bags are also for sale. It can also be purchased on Amazon and directly from the artist. For more information on Noel’s life and work, visit noeldesigninterp.com.
This island born of ice fingers
reaching down from Canada
rests in the middle
of an inland sea
where a people lived
6,000 years before
bones and stone tools
still wash from glacial till
in storm tides.
Cedar stumps carry scars
from springboard notches
when all the trees
ALL the trees
were cut down
to build communities
and clear the land for farms
where Japanese families
until they were moved to camps
to wait out a war they did not start.
born of ice fingers
Resting in the middle
of an inland sea
where I came to rest
blown by a hard wind
westward to this place.
— Sandra Noel, from “Love, Island.”