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Climbing Lightly through Forests: A Poetry Anthology Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin

edited by Lisa M. Bradley and R. B. Lemberg

$18 (paperback)
$7.95 (e-book) EPUB
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Read a sample from the book.

Ursula K. Le Guin, celebrated for her speculative fiction, was also a prolific poet. Although poetry framed Le Guin’s life, her poetic oeuvre never garnered the same acclaim as her fiction. Distinct from the cosmic worldbuilding of her science fiction and fantasy, Le Guin’s poems were “smaller scale, more intimate, more fragile.”

As a tribute anthology, Climbing Lightly Through Forests hosts multiple conversations: poets respond to Ursula K. Le Guin, her work, or their own reactions to Le Guin or her work; editors Lemberg and Bradley put the poets in conversation with each other and with readers. Poets from around the world (including Greece, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, the UK, Australia, Canada, and the United States) contribute perspectives that both honor and challenge Le Guin’s legacy. In addition, Lemberg, a Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellow, provides a retrospective essay analyzing Le Guin’s nine full-length poetry collections.


It occurred to me, after reading and thinking about the poems in this anthology, that poetry is the perfect medium with which to capture the essence of a writer like Ursula Le Guin: so multifaceted, her interests so wide-ranging. Fantasy and science fiction express or speculate upon broader truths about human life through imaginary worlds; poetry can represent the essence of an abstract truth through concrete imagery. In both speculative fiction and in poetry, we learn, as Susannah Mandel suggests in her poem “Evening (terza rima),” “how to find / the sense in the almost-familiar, halfway changing, ever new” (p. 55). The final lines of Rachel Swirsky’s lovely found poem, “Upwards Toward the Light,” capture what is for me the essence of Le Guin’s work, and, in a sense, of this anthology:

To see how beautiful the Earth is,
accept the responsibility of change
see it from the vantage point of death. (p. 27)
  (Read the whole review)
  —Strange Horizons, Debbie Gascoyne, Auust 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61976-197-1 (13 digit)
Publication Date: Jan 2021
paperback 178 pages