Alison Swan - poet, author, environmental activist

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Thanks for dropping by. My newest book A Fine Canopy is available now. My teacher, Mary Ruefle, sent these kind words: “These poems offer us acts of attention and tenderness, two things we need now more than ever.”

Attention and tenderness–yes! And a bit of anger and grief along the way, too. I’m a poet and writer who’s rattled by our apparent disregard for the “fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals.” That’s Aldo Leopold’s definition of land, as laid out in his clarion call to protect all of nature: A Sand County Almanac. I was the child who headed to the lake or into the woods with a bag of books and notebooks. Land and the water that turns land into watersheds remain inexhaustible sources of ongoingness.

But I’m also the adult who’s happy to visit—online—the paintings of an artist I recently discovered and the newly published poem of a friend. That sort of immediate access to another kind of inspiration can be breathtaking.

Fresh WaterReading and writing, especially the creative kind, liberate our imaginations from what-is and nudge us—or shove us—toward what-could-be. In these times, imagination, so long as it is coupled with a land ethic which does not disregard humans, seems more important than ever.

I’m based in Ann Arbor, Michigan–where I get to host Eco Book Club at one of my favorite bookstores, Literati. But I live in both the Huron River and Kalamazoo River watersheds, which are dear to me.

Click here for information about my books, here for recent news and upcoming events and here to listen to a poetry reading and conversation with Dave Dempsey in January 2021.

News & Events

Orion Magazine Recommends A Fine Canopy

This fairly extraordinary and completely unexpected news filled my screen yesterday when I opened my newsletter from Orion magazine, a magazine I have read and loved for decades: Orion's poetry editor, Camille T. Dungy reviewed [...]

This Cool Thing Happened to my Poem

This cool thing happened because of my new book. I don’t have a picture, so bear with me, please, as I recreate with words the photo that was deleted before it made its way to me. [...]

My Blog

Here Is an Idea for Your Saturday

This post is dedicated to the stranger I recently encountered, sitting on a park bench, next to a community garden, reading a book in the sunshine. I am lucky to live within walking distance of three extraordinary bookstores, [...]

I Want to Throw a Huge Party

Yesterday I walked up the brick walkway from my little writing shed to find that a small cardboard box had been placed outside our door—kind of decoratively it seemed to me. Perhaps the deliveryperson has a [...]

On ignoring the news for a minute

A couple of days ago, I was the fortunate recipient of a songbird's wakeup call. Our family calendar and the texting app on my phone had my full attention, but not ten feet away on the [...]

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