A Field Guide to “A Guide to Dungeness Spit”

According to the Jacket Blurb . . .

A Field Guide to "A Guide to Dungeness Spit"
A Field Guide to “A Guide to Dungeness Spit” (Lantzville, BC: Oolichan Books, 1997).

This book pays homage to David Wagoner, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most evocative contemporary poets.  It is also an essay that wonderfully illustrates how local knowledge shapes a distinctive landscape.  Wagoner’s poem, “A Guide to Dungeness Spit,” is itself inspired by a rare natural phenomenon–the spit of land that juts seven miles out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  Laurie Ricou by turn and step provides not only a “field guide” to the poem–tracing its inner life by showing how Wagoner draws on letters and local legends, newspaper stories and tourist brochures–but also walks us through the ecology of Wagoner’s north Pacific coastscape.   In a series of speculations about water, rock, animal, history and tales, Ricou demonstrates the profound interdependence between ecology and culture.  This “field guide” to Wagoner’s “Field Guide” also compellingly shows how important Dungeness Spit and all other natural sites are–psychically and spiritually–to the peope who live there.