Climbing Lightly through Forests:
A Poetry Anthology
Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin
edited by R.B. Lemberg and Lisa M. Bradley
We are pleased to announce the release of Climbing Lightly through Forests: A Poetry Anthology Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin, edited by R.B. Lemberg and Lisa M. Bradley, in both print and e-book editions. It's available now on our website.
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.”
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 engaging with each of Le Guin’s nine full-length poetry collections in turn.
In the editors' "Not an Introduction," Lisa asks R.B.: What did you learn from your deep dive into Le Guin’s poetry?
R.B. replies: Much of her poetry felt very personal to me, and not nearly as speculative as her fiction; and there was much less engagement with it, from both readers and critics, so I was interested in why that might be. Le Guin herself said her poetry was dismissed because it was written by a novelist; but I am not sure if that is quite true. It’s just that her poetry was so much less speculative, and her readers expected speculative works from her—grand feats of imagination, of naming what has been silent for long. The magic of her poetry is quieter. It is in the wind and water, the landscape and the trees, whole forests of them. Ursula called herself an arboreal writer, and the title of this book, a line from one of her poems, reflects that.
Lisa: Arboreal! Certainly, Le Guin looms large as a sequoia for readers of her speculative fiction. But perhaps we should imagine her as a whole forest, because she wrote astutely and passionately about many things in many genres.
The editors mention a few of Ursula's many conversations with other poets, including those she translated into English—eager, as always, to bring unheard voices into our cultural conversations. This spirit is at the heart of this anthology, and in this seeks to honor Ursula K. Le Guin three years after her death. As R.B. remarks, "I love how the poetry in this volume has such a range of tone. Taken as a whole, the resulting book is deeply Ursuline—in its contemplativeness, in its rebelliousness and resistance, in its thoughtfulness, in its sadness, and its hope."