Sailing by Ravens

Sailing by Ravens

by Holly Hughes


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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 thirty 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.

“These poems of the sea begin with a school girl’s fascination for ‘the blue sea holding captive all the land’ and end as the seasoned sailor learns that ‘even the old charts/ can’t navigate the wild shoals of your heart.’ Along the way we are shipmates through days of fishing, sailing, loving, and losing as Hughes navigates the lure, lore, and loneliness of a sea that is both natural force and metaphor. I love Sailing by Ravens with its salt of the sea, salt of our deepest lives.”

—Gary Thompson, author of One Thing After Another

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781602232259
Publisher: University of Alaska Press
Publication date: 02/15/2014
Series: University of Alaska Press - The Alaska Literary Series
Pages: 100
Product dimensions: 11.00(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Holly J. Hughesis coauthor ofThe Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World,editor of the award-winning anthologyBeyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease,and author ofBoxing the Compass. Hughes teaches writing at Edmonds Community College in Washington state. She has spent over thirty summers working on the water in Alaska in a variety of roles, including commercial fishing for salmon, skippering a 65-foot schooner, and working as a naturalist on ships.

Table of Contents


The Navigational Fix




Desire Lines

Desire is never on the map


So Many Superstitions to Defy

Heading for Town

Body Memory

What She Can’t Say

Correcting for Variation

Correcting for Deviation

What the Sea Takes, Gives Back

Steer for the Light

Because the sea never forgets



What Was Lost

Wind Rose

This World More Properly Resembles a Heart

Mercator Writes His Epitaph

Painting of John Harrison

The Forestaff

The Wounded Dog Theory: My Dog Responds

The Statue of Flavio Gioia

Bravo Ocean

Cow Falling, Again



Here Be Dragons

Navigating the Body

Terra Incognito


Deep Space


Tied, Untied



Horse Latitudes



Existence Doubtful

Melancholia: Rima Dissolutas

She Speaks in Tongues




Dead Reckoning

The Coriolis Effect

She Dreams of Great Circle Sailing

Boxing the Compass

True North

Working on Deck

Eye Splice

Sailing by Ravens

Steering by Monarchs

Reckoning, Again

And the Universe Curved

All the Unseen Forces



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