There aren’t too many hats prolific local artist Linda Buckley hasn’t worn; from being a retired Juneau educator to environmental activist and songwriter to published author and world traveler. Her most recent addition to the long list of accomplishments is a newly published book of poetry titled “Made of Rain: Words From the Wilds of Alaska.”
Perhaps better known for her two popular children’s books, “The Bear in the Blueberry” and “The Humpback in the Herring,” this latest endeavor finds Buckley taking a departure from educating children on science and the interconnectedness of nature and instead finds her dusting off and making use of poems she’s been collecting for over 40 years.
“I have so many boxes full of so many stories and I’ve traveled all over the world, and I have travel journals, so I took a class during COVID called Manuscript Clan with a poet out of Colorado named Judith Hill, she had met me about six years prior at a writing conference, and she hand-picked about 30 of us to help us get our poems out into the world,” Buckley said.
This book also marks her first time not being self-published, as Buckley explained, through her chance meeting with Hill, she found not only an editor but also a publisher.
“Judith and my designer, Mary Mead, the two of them started a publishing company called Wild Rising Press out of Colorado and I’m the first book that they published,” Buckley said. “Judith is one of these editors that just makes you feel like a superstar. She’ll make these suggestions that always make the piece better. I’m a fast writer, so I knock off a poem and I want it to just be there, but then she’ll go, ‘yeah, it’s there…but it could be better, though.”
Though having seen much of the world at the age of 75, you won’t find poems about her adventures to India, West Africa, Myanmar in this particular collection because “Made of Rain” is purely an ode to Southeast Alaska, the place Buckley has called home for the last half century. Told through the style of prose and storytelling rather than rhymes, Buckley said these pieces mostly came from little scraps of yellow legal paper or even napkins scribbled on in coffee shops; her poems are often reflections of not only experiences within Alaska but also the lessons that come with them.
“There’s a whole piece in there about shooting my first deer and then the piece right after is called ‘Revenge of the Deer’ because my tooth fell out from a piece of the venison getting stuck between my tooth and gum,” Buckley said. “I found another piece I had written on a boat trip from Prince Rupert to Bellingham called, ‘My Face is a Nautical Chart.’ I had completely forgotten it existed, so I rewrote it and called it ‘Navigation.’ It’s about how as you get older you wonder if there is safe passage only to find it’s all written on your weathered face.”
Next, Buckley said rather than returning to children’s books or more poetry, she plans on setting her sights on either a collection of travel essays or a memoir, something to capture her life’s worth of travels and many adventures.
“My son said if you don’t write these books about the adventures you had with us kids, I’m going to write a book called ‘Travels with Mom’ because he brought up the point that most people don’t travel like we did.” Buckley said. “Riding on the backs of camels through the Sahara Desert or in Costa Rica under a pelican roosting tree getting covered in pelican poop or riding horses and delivering babies in the wilderness. I really started dragging them around by the age of 11 and they are, of course, adults now and world travelers themselves, so there are just a lot of good stories to explore.”
Know & Go
What: “Made of Rain: Words From the Wilds of Alaska.”
When: 4:30 – 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 5
Where: Hearthside Books Merchants Wharf, 2 Marine Way.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com