Gabriela Yadegari is an American artist studying at Bennington College in Vermont. She primarily works with auditory and visual media.
Gabriela and I grew up together as children. As we went our separate ways after school, I could not help but return to this art that she was putting forth. Her work has always been deeply focused on the texture of the world, both inside and outside her mind. It showcases things that are expected, and small, like digging in rich soil or a spread of oranges; but also things that are unexpected and live inside her mind, like the use of organic dyes to make modern art stamps and cat litter to create cracked textures. Her deep focus on these things is inspirational to my own work as a writer; it prompts us to think deeply about the textures and colors of our own lives, our own works. Poetry is a combination of both visual art and the written word, and Gabriela lives at this transition site as well.
I call shinbones of water skinnying down into sluice boxes.
Brackish water, sulfur-smelling water, sludge.
Rain in rain barrels,
clear water spilling over dams
and clear water that has never been dammed.
I confront the brink
even though I’m part of the brink.
from "We Have the Power to Pull Back from the Brink"
Ellery Akers is the author of three poetry books, most recently, Swerve: Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance. She’s won thirteen national writing awards, including an IPPY Award and the Poetry International Prize. Her poetry has been featured on National Public Radio and in Poetry and The New York Times Magazine.
I was introduced to Ellery over email by our mutual friend, the poet Ruth Schwartz. At our first meeting, Ellery and I took a walk around a small pond. I quickly realized that Ellery was an extraordinary ecologist, who knew so much about the flora and fauna of West Marin, as well as a woman brimming with love for good poetry. Not only would she recite lines from Hopkins or Dickinson by heart to me as we walked and talked, but she and I would engage in delightful conversations about newer work from modern poets that we’d just read.
We have been friends for several years now, and workshop together regularly in a wonderful group that Ellery invited me to join. But I love Ellery for more than all of this. Ellery is also one of the most dedicated environmentalists I know, and through her incredible new book, Swerve, has inspired me to feel less hopeless and more willing to take action to save our planet. I feel such admiration, respect, and deep gratitude to Ellery; consider reading her work, as you will too!
~Julia B. Levine, July 2020