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What happens when we enter unfamiliar realms, when we open ourselves to the unknown? Sometimes that not-knowing makes art possible. In Toucan Nest, the eighth book by Alaska State Writer Laureate Peggy Shumaker, her first vivid encounters with the rainforests of Costa Rica—with its basilisk lizards, bats, and bromeliads, its crocodiles, sloths, and strangler figs—refresh and renew our world in a work of startlingly beautiful mindfulness and imagination.
About the Author
Peggy Shumaker is Alaska State Writer Laureate. Her previous book of poems is Gnawed Bones. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. Toucan Nest, her most recent collection, grew from an eco-arts writing workshop in Costa Rica. Professor emerita from University of Alaska Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is founding editor of Boreal Books, publishers of fine art and literature from Alaska. She edits the Alaska Literary Series at University of Alaska Press. Please visit her website at www.peggyshumaker.com.
“Shumaker’s vivid Toucan Nest is about learning to see—Costa Rica serving as the textbook. Between the parentheses of arrival and departure, the pages burst with lessons—rich, beautiful, and sometimes terrifying. For us, looking over her shoulder, it is education by proxy. So iridescent is Shumaker’s language, we are there, floating downriver with the crocodiles, watching panicky iguanas hustling from a fire, the basilisk lizard ‘zipping / zigzag on hind legs,’ a flash of green and ruby eyes, and oh, did you hear it? the love cry of the jaguar and the cry of the quetzal whose morning song brings the whole blessèd world to life. A dazzle of a book.”
“This is a book of burnished, lapidary attention. Its poems—vibrant with seeing, quickened with sound-work, subtled by insight—peel open landscapes both outer and inner. The costs of our human presence and extractions are in these pages, but also the radiant return of human awareness. Toucan Nest is a unique account of encounter, imaginative inquiry, and expansion.”