In his second collection, Walker Abel continues to voice the archetypal and contemplative presences awaiting us within the natural world. These are poems of surprise, poems of revelation. Not quite fairy tale, not quite magical realism, the poems are stories out of the unconscious, which is to say, out of the wild. For Abel, the poem is a threshold. It leads into another realm that is both the familiar grounded world of mountains and rivers, and also an ineffable world, where we meet our own yearnings for open-hearted encounter with the fullness and mystery of earthy life.
“Walker Abel is a true nature mystic–a vital voice in our times. His poetry takes you on a perennial journey of connection to self, to our Mother Nature and beyond. Wildness lives and breathes through Walker’s words. ”
—Jon Young, author of Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature
“In Stories Dreamed, this wonderful poet expands his method—the bridges are down, each word is alone. Reading these poems, we hear a voice in the forest that might be our own, waking from a dream in a dream.”
—Michael Hannon, author of Imaginary Burden and Who On Earth
In these poems of desert walking, sea winds, and the drifting of smoke, Walker Abel reveals the stillness at the heart of this movement: the unseen, the unborn, the “one fire that does not move.” Reading his poems is an act of meditation. They invite us to venture out with him, to ponder “the shape and the shapeless” in the concrete details and unfoldings of the natural world. The wilderness has led Abel to moments of deep appreciation, awareness, and insight, and using the skillful means of poetry, he evokes such moments in us.
-Chris Ives, PhD, author of Zen Awakening and Society
Walker Abel’s delicate poems are like carefully held embers carried across time and space. Each one suffused with a haunting sense of distance and yearning, yet twined with Abel’s rapt attention for silent heartbeats that only owls hear and bent grasses left by passing deer. These are poems that illuminate and fill the wild, living places out of which they were born.
-David Lukas, author of Language Making Nature
Walker Abel’s luminous writings take us into the landscape like few others can. With his words, we are suddenly traversing the blurred boundaries between the buzzing creatures we live amongst, and the buzzing attention of human consciousness. These poems are, in essence, about being in landscape as a fully present human. I am often reminded when reading his poems, of the experience of being out in the backcountry — when awareness stills and the mind can be a reflective mirror, as the lakes and waters he describes. I am grateful for his work and for the light it offers, for his commitment to attention, and for paying homage to the sacred quality of the life of which we are all blessed to be a witness and a part of.
-Renee Lertzman, Ph.D., author of Environmental Melancholia
“Stories Dreamed is a magnificent journey into that place where time slips into eternity. Walker Abel’s profound sensitivity to the radical aliveness of the natural world takes us there to experience its indelible beauty. With the eye of a naturalist and the heart of a mystic, Abel deftly guides the reader into a landscape which becomes dreamscape with only a shimmering, translucent veil between them. These poems provide an unforgettable encounter with our own mysterious depth where “Everything we live / lived elsewhere once.”
–Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, author of The Moon Reminded Me
While Wallace Stevens once famously placed a jar and watched the landscape rise up around it, Walker Abel has placed himself among mountains and rivers, beaches and forests. His poetic sensibility adds life to their life. These poems are squarely in the tradition of American wilderness writing but lean more to the transcendent than Abel’s earlier work. It’s no accident that the imagery of love and even weddings flows throughout—uniting the poet with forces beyond. And the fortunate reader as well.
–Miriam Sagan, author of Love and Death: Greatest Hits and Black Rainbow
Walker Abel lives in a remote home in the Yolla Bolly Mountains of northern California. As an undergraduate at University of California, Santa Cruz, in the mid-70’s, he participated in an environmental studies field program called Sierra Institute. Twelve years later, after completing a graduate program with ecopsychology pioneer Robert Greenway, he came back to teach for Sierra Institute, which he has done now for 26 years, while also taking on the role of director since 2003. Most of his poetry has been written in field journals while out on these academic programs, which are 9 weeks long and are entirely taught during a series of backpacking trips. It has not been unusual for Walker to teach three programs a year, amounting to a total of up to 6 months in the backcountry. One of his greatest joys is watching each new group of students open over time to the transformative influence of wilderness immersion. Walker has a 33 year old son (Stuart), who is also an ecopsychologist, backpacker, and nature-connection educator.