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  • Writer's pictureNora Curry

All We Can Save

One of the great joys of being a cataloger in a library is getting to handle and peruse every new or donated book that enters our shelves, be it children's, young adult, or adult, fiction, nonfiction, or something in between. It's risky for the never-ending growth of the to-read pile but a wondrous way to widen my own perspective and pique interests in a great swath of books. I thus recently found myself introduced to a wide variety of voices when looking over the newly published paperback edition of the anthology All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson. There are many windows into and ways to approach the climate crisis. While action is critical, so is reflection, which can take the form of both creation and consumption of the creations of others. All We Can Save features a diversity of essays and poems, accompanied by the paneled artwork of Madeleine Jubilee Saito, all of which tackle the climate crisis in different ways.

The essays are compelling and important reads, but Book Talk by the Sea has always been a holding space for poetry, and it is the poems that most affected this reader. Find a taste below one of Saito's most compelling and hopeful panels and consider exploring the full content of the book by requesting it through our catalog.

Artwork by Madeleine Jubilee Saito. Learn more and view her work, including other "comics" from All We Can Save at


Anne Haven McDowell is a New Mexico-based poet and creative writing teacher who work has been featured in numerous journals and published recently in her 2020 chapbook, Living with Wolves. The following poem from All We Can Save embeds the speaker in nature in a spirit both of quiet revelry and "grief," too, at the complexity of the human relationship to the earth.

She Told Me the Earth Loves Us

She said it softly, without a need for conviction or romance. After everything? I asked, ashamed.

That's not the kind of love she meant. She walked through a field of gray beetle-pored pine, snags branching

like polished bone. I forget sometimes how trees look at me with the generosity of water. I forget all the other

breath I'm breathing in. Today I learned that trees can't sleep with our lights on. That they knit

a forest in their language, their feelings. This is not a metaphor. Like seeing a face across a crowd,

we are learning all the old things, newly shined and numbered. I'm always looking

for a place to lie down and cry. Green, mossed, shaded. Or rock-quiet, empty. Somewhere

to hush and start over. I put on my antlers in the sun. I walk through the dark gates of the trees.

Grief waters my footsteps, leaving a trail that glistens.

- Anne Haven McDonnell


Farmer, poet, and performer, Naima Penniman is co-creator, along with Alixa Garcia, of the duo Climbing PoeTree, self-described as having harnessed creativity as the antidote to destruction through their award-winning spoken word, hip hop infused world music, multimedia theater, and popular education models." The text of "Being Human" appears in All We Can Save, but I also invite you to view the spoken word poet's compelling video version below.

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