Remembering Eva Saulitis

Alaskan poet and marine biologist Eva Saulitis has died of cancer.

Saulitis, who lived in Homer, was the author of several books of poetry and prose: “Leaving Resurrection: Chronicles of a Whale Scientist,” “Many Ways to Say It,” “Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss in the Realm of Vanishing Orcas,” “Prayer in Wind,” and a not-yet-released book, “Becoming Earth.” She wrote a blog about her battle with metastic breast cancer, alaskanincancerland.blogspot.com. The most recent entry, from June 6, 2013, after she learned her cancer had returned and was incurable, is called “When What I Feared Most Came to Pass.”

“When what I feared most came to pass, I walked into my love’s arms. We wept. We looked around and into our lives. I thought, I have been given a heaven on earth. I have lived in paradise. There is nothing I want, nothing I would change, nowhere I would go. My bucket list is for more of what I have. It runneth over,” she wrote.

Later, “…A terminal diagnosis can set a person apart in a culture that turns its gaze away from death. And yet increasingly, our culture seems to be changing, which seems wise, considering death is an integral aspect of life,” she wrote in an Alaska Dispatch News “We Alaskans” column in September of last year. “As a person with a terminal diagnosis, I have lived the pain of turning away from and rejecting the idea of my own death, and I have lived the surprising hope of turning toward my own death with curiosity, openness, sadness, wonder, and yes, fear. I have learned many things along the way, and it’s in that spirit that I share this writing with other mortal beings.”

Her death has inspired poets, writers and and nature-lovers in Alaska and beyond to write about and remember her. Krista Langlois wrote a piece on Saulitis’ passing in Orion Magazine, available at https://orionmagazine.org/2016/01/41954/, and 49 Writers Executive Director Erin Hollowell wrote about her at http://49writers.blogspot.com/2016/01/remembering-eva-saulitis.html.

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