The poems of Insistent Grace, by Elizabeth C. Herron, demonstrate close attentiveness to the natural world and express oneness with it: “let us lie down in the rain—/water inside, water outside.” They are also rich and fluid, sensuous, awakening all the senses in landscapes we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Taken together, they form a great love song to the Earth with its “cinnamon teals lifting/off the marsh,” its “wind-scuffed glitter/along the tongue of the bay.” These are necessary poems, born from an understanding of the need to protect our lovely blue-green planet, the only home we know.
–Lucille Lang Day, author of Becoming an Ancestor and Infinities, coeditor of Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California
Elizabeth Herron’s poems in this collection seem to be written as pure love of the world of nature and her thorough assimilation of it, her immersion in it. Reading, you experience with her a merging into the greater whole of the other-than-human world, which for her is an embodiment of the sacred. Some of the poems are from the perspective of loss, of having been disconnected in some way and reuniting but with a kind of sadness, celebrating and simultaneously mourning the world’s great innocent beauties. “Before the mind awakes/the animal body remembers/the smell of salt and storms … remembers itself/empty of language, empty of plans…. Then the mind rushes back … and the animal body forgets its ever present small happiness. We rise/and step into words/and calendars and clocks/and the long long grief.”
–Gail Entrekin, editor of Canary (canarylitmag.org), author of Rearrangement of the Invisible
Like deep breaths drawn effortlessly in, the poems and images of Insistent Grace are satisfying to the core. Filled with the aromas of salt fog, summer grass, redwood creeks, eucalyptus, and bay, they weave together the human and the more-than-human worlds. It’s a stunning intersection—buzzing with things I’d almost forgotten and others that were realized only on reading Elizabeth Herron’s words. This is such a gift.
As someone on the verge of elderhood, it was a relief to discover affirmations of life (in so many forms) alongside clear-eyed acknowledgments of aging, decline, and death. Cloaked in wonder, grief, and acceptance, they led me, in small but essential ways, to reframe my place and my future here. “We are always reinventing the world,” she writes. The ripples from these poems carry that power—and reinvent the reader as well.
–Arthur Dawson, poet, writer, editor and historical ecologist, author of Where the World Begins: Sonoma Mountain Stories and Images
Amazing grace, amazing poet! In the time of global pandemic and climate crisis, Elizabeth Herron evokes Mother Nature’s insistent grace—a power that compels respect and can help us heal ourselves and our planet—if we are resolute.
–Marilou Awiakta, author of Selu: Seeking the Corn Mother’s Wisdom
Elizabeth Herron escapes the mundane, man-made world in favor of the feminine, natural one. Here time moves as slowly as the moon, as quickly as a pair of trout in a mating dance. Our senses say, “Yes, yes, I remember the scent of ‘wood smoke and moldering leaves.’” The poet is our guide, leading us away from the overwhelming, specific present into an elemental time and space, where earth, sky, light, night, and creatures of all sizes invite us to join the dance. At a time when the natural world is so immediately threatened, Elizabeth Herron reminds us what it is we love so much about it.
Elizabeth is an alumna of the Mesa Refuge, a writing retreat where nature is the writer’s constant companion. Days spent in silence there have done their work on her, so evident in her keen perception and lyrical phrasing.
–Susan Page Tillett, executive director of Mesa Refuge