In anticipation of Water Rising’s upcoming release, we wanted to give our blog followers a special taste of what’s to come in our newest publication. This book is far different from the majority of our other works for several reasons. The most important is that this is a collaborative work involving both poems and paintings placed side by side to emphasize, inform, and complement each other. While either could be standalone works, they bring considerably more meaning when paired together.
The creators also challenged themselves to stretch outside their comfort zones to reach for something unique and inspiring by both trying a different medium from what they have previously been immensely successful in. Leila Philip, an award-winning prose and nonfiction writer, wrote poems. Garth Evans, an internationally renowned sculptor, created watercolor paintings.
This surprising collaboration created some spectacular results, which any who see the book can certainly vouch for. Not only is this project incredibly unique in its combination of art forms, but also rare in its philanthropy and strong mission. The purpose of this book and its proceeds, as explained in greater detail on Philip’s and Evans’s website, is to donate all net proceeds towards environmental organizations aimed at helping preserve the majesty and natural wonder of our remaining green spaces. They are particularly focused on helping the area around Northeastern Connecticut, which is where both Philip and Evans created their art over a 12-month period.
This mission is at the core of the project and is definitely reflected in the poems and watercolors throughout the book that have a strong environment- and nature-driven theme. In fact, the title poem, “Water Rising,” is one of Philip’s poems that reflects the scenic beauty of that area and ones like it across the world. The poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. We hope you enjoy this sneak peek of this incredible collaboration and look forward to its release.
Again, for more information on the book and its mission, please visit the Water Rising website or the Forthcoming Titles tab on New Rivers Press’ website. And so, without further delay, this is Leila Philip’s poem “Water Rising,” from the like-titled book to be released November 9th, 2015:
Beavers are the Shiva of the animal world. Who knows how a beaver chooses where to
make her pond? But once she does, trees fall like spears of light then overnight disappear,
dragged to underwater lairs, or left to float eerie carcasses, every branch and shred of
bark stripped clean.
Last week I saw the beaver who’s been cutting down the woods near my house. It
was evening, the weary light thinning through the trees by the time I reached the bridge.
Sound came first, a crack so loud I flinched, thinking my neighbor had shot his gun. But
across the newly flooded swamp, I saw a brown head cutting a silver vee. Beaver, the
first I’d seen.
One black eye visible, staring, back and forth she swam, a crease in flat silver,
then she dove like some huge furious fish and her dark tail flicked up and slammed the
surface. Another crack echoed through the trees, her warning.
Now my beaver swam faster and faster, back and forth before me on the bridge,
fierce, her whole being focused on this one resolve, to make me go away. Again she
slammed the water, sound booming through the trees.
This swamp was hers, her trickling dam, her fallen trees, her growing pond. Each
day water rising. When I didn’t move she began to track me, that dark eye locked on my
This time, when she dove, she took me with her, my svelte younger self moving
through the hot water ladled with silt, down to the bottom of the pond where she had
carved her underwater trails, clawing roads through the deep muck.
When I surfaced I was middle-aged, messy in my ways as if I had grown four sets of
yellow teeth, two layers of fur, claws, and dark scales cascading down the thick paddle
tail. Half fish, but no mermaid.