Archive for December, 2011

Leah C. Stetson

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

The Secret Life of Bin, “Lost at Sea”

Sluggish cargo ships, predators of snails,
Haul and shed their containers, lost at sea,
Submersible Bin banged-on lose nails
Tumbling like a wheelchair down the stairs

In a rocky ecosystem. Far above, birds of prey
Push the melting sky of bright clouds, capture
Any jumping fish, recycled cardboard of the day,
Absorb toxics and digest adhesives, bits of lure.

Bin overhears a sordid meeting: Pirates cut
Their asking price. “Every hostage must go!”
Liquidation of oil, fumy fumes and feuds gut
Dissect chemical analysis, fencing cyclones.

Waves away, floating beside finback whales that lunge
And plunge to feed their new slogan: Save the carbon sinks!
Bin tries to seine fish as if a weighted gaping cavity sponge
They just swim out again, “no tanks,” it thinks.

Tide-turned, bumped against a seamount, this flotsam
Treasure buries a robotic arm still hinged, under-utilized
With the mechanics of a spiny lobster muscled claw
Pent-up lashings Captain Hook never fantasized.

In the darkness, a tiger shark (tagged for monitoring)
Investigates Bin, takes a bite outta him, loses interest,
What a nightmare. Dreams of Atlantis, ancient things,
Contents absorbed by the power of tsunamis, hints
Left deep in the marshlands on the coast of Spain.

Water seeps into the wound, enough to tip, dip and gulp
Bin won’t wash up ashore, oh no, sinking evermore,
To the sea floor, a shifty edge, a sanctuary of writhing kelp
Sadly a different story, if Bottle had written home

This note: “Made it safely but Bin’s adrift.
Send a boat.”

Mer Girls

I grew up on a tiny island,
Where I played with mermaid dolls
I called Sandy and Shell—
We wore seaweed necklaces,
Sucked on saltgrass
And sunned ourselves,
Swirling in a hot, black inner tube
That insulated me from the shock
Of the incoming tide,
Which numbed my feet so I forgot
About my jellies, even as mud
Squirted out the sides
With each step submerged
Treading & letting the rockweed
Collect at my waist,
A briny petticoat with many
Pairs of hidden legs.

Salt flaked off my skin
As though I shed scales
When I emerged from my swim,
I carried one mermaid ashore
But lost Sandy, blonde with green fins,
Who I never saw again—
How I looked for her evermore
And dreamt she drifted
Off to sleep in some briny bed
Way out over my head, out deep.

Strange Girl of Tides, a Siren’s Song

In his dreams he goes exploring and his mind travels back
Searches for a smaller world, ‘cross bridges and railroad tracks
He finds a tiny island in a harbor he once knew well
Always autumn, a golden-glow, the same salty smell.

If he were an island, he’d wear rocks and a breeze;
Strewn with the fates of other men, broken shells,
Bits of glass worn and green, silted wounds on his knees.
Peer into his tidal pools, a mirror of destiny deep down
Where to hide, not for long, out with moons and rogue swells
Trees hundred rings round with sirens in their crown.

Edges eroded by saltwater and time
He patched and repaired, falling pebbles
A blurred and benign disappearing line
Lost his boundaries, brick and rubble.

Suddenly a strange girl, dirty blonde and summer,
Slipped through the eel grass; he sat down to watch her
She perched upon a rock to dry off, wet long hair made darker.
Up close, not a girl, mud-caked thighs, uneven scales that marked her.
If he were an island, this angel of tides might be his avenger.

Regret reaches, a seamount, under his skin
Invisible between the crests of waves,
An extinct volcano, no risk of eruption.
No lava, no lover, nothing to save.
He shrugs it off, crumbles and caves.

If he were an island, he’d wear rocks and a breeze;
Strewn with the fates of better men, broken pots and shells,
Bits of glass worn and green, silted wounds on his knees.
Oh, swim against the current, beneath the trestle, he longs
To tread water, not slip out with moons and rogue swells
Haunted by the sirens in the trees and lured by their songs.

In his waking hours, he walks along the shore
Never to that island, not a bridge anymore.
But in his dreams, he takes the railing, body rigid
He leans over… won’t dive into that cold harbor.
Live to find, his angel of tides, that island girl
His avenger, she’ll patch the pebbles, draw the lines.

Every man is an island, looking for the lines.
Will she avenge him, this strange girl of tides?

Edge of the Dump

I drove to the transfer station,
With plastic shopping bags in the back seat,
Rinsed tuna cans and milk gallons,
Trash that reeked of seafood shells & entrails,
The nasty parts we didn’t eat.

As I recycled my containers–
*Clank, clankety-clink*
I noticed a familiar cover:
Rachel Carson’s classic on the brink
Of being tossed over!

There, at the edge of the dump, I salvaged
A 1955 paperback 8th edition in good condition
The Edge of the Sea, to which I pay homage,
For it is a most poetic and practical guide
And the reason that I could finally fathom

Ecology, long after I’d
Nearly drowned in my course text
While my professor denied
All my attempts to make sense.

So I turned, as though with the tide,
To my idol marine ecologist and writer
On principles and periwinkles,
Salt marsh laws and ooh, the water!

The pages of my own copy were tagged & crinkled,
Marked where I wanted to refer
To her words and to reflect—
Writing my term paper,
All too circumspect,
Braced for the inevitable scoff,
“In all its varied manifestations,”
The grade, for one, I thought, was off
But I am known for exasperations
And swam away from a twitching prof.

I navigated through the dump’s gates,
Like a series of locks in a canal.
Back on the main road, I felt a change in weight
A solid decision to liquidate
My assets, to quit my typing job—I shall!

So that I have more time to write
And teach part-time at the Oceanarium.
I love to see micro-organisms come to light,
Revealed in ripples of moon glow, a microcosm
Phosphorescent in the dark of night.

Finding Carson’s book at the edge
Of the dump was like this, incandescent,
A revelation, a hotspot, a ledge
Insisting that I save myself,
Find a tide pool that cools the mind

And dive into it.


Leah C. Stetson is a poet, writer, editor and human ecologist from the coast of Maine. Leah holds a master’s degree from College of the Atlantic. She writes about wetlands for a nonprofit organization. Her poetry has appeared in New Maine Times, Off the Coast, Wicked Alice, Red Ochre Lit, Words & Images, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal, Wolf Moon Press Journal, Not Just Air, LILA: Literature of Los Angeles and COA Magazine.  A spiritual mermaid, she has blogged about sharks in wetlands, among other marine topics in her “Strange Wetlands” blog at

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Gerald Vizenor

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Almost Ashore

winter sea
over my shoes
and bright
round stones
at san gregorio

every wave
turns a season
forests adrift
empty shells
memory of fire
so faraway
in the mountains
and canyons

silent pools
raise my faces
by early tide
slight my hand
almost ashore

light breaks
over the plovers
certain steps
my traces
blood, bone, stone
turn natural
and heavy waves
rush the sand

“Almost Ashore” from Almost Ashore. Copyright © 2006 by Gerald Vizenor. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.

decorate the last fences
down to the sea

paper boats
sail on a crack of thunder
out to sea

Two haiku poems from Cranes Arise, Nodin Press.

Selected passage from a chapter in my novel, Hiroshima Bugi: Atomu 57, University of Nebraska Press.

The sword was mine, a natural, driftwood bounty shaped by steady ocean currents to fit my tiny hands.  I raised that sword over my head, slowly turned about to my shadow, and practiced the cuts, thrusts, and blocks of a seven-year-old hafu ronin on the beach, the serious, solitary, ingenuous pantomime of a samurai warrior.

My wooden sword, a natural contour, had washed ashore near the orphanage at Oiso Long Beach on Sagami Bay in Japan.  I was roused by a sense of tradition and secret power, and at first touch that sword cast a mighty shadow on the beach.

The ocean game me another chance to create a lasting presence in the world.  My heart beat with the waves as the bony clouds raced out to sea.  Nearby, four ravens strutted on the beach and teased me with garrulous croaks.  The sun warned the sand, my hands, and drew me into a natural pocket of solace stories.


Gerald Vizenor is Distinguished Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico.  He has published more than thirty books. Native Liberty: Natural Reason and Cultural Survivance, and Shrouds of White Earth are his most recent books.  Vizenor has received the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award.

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JJ Kelley and Adrian Pruitt

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories


Currently filming for National Geographic and producing his own films, JJ Kelley is this project’s videographer along with assistance from Adrian Pruitt.  All footage was taken during the Alaska SeaLife Center’s expedition planning meeting for GyreX, a marine debris project and dialogue between scientists and artists.

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Dianna Cohen

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories


Los Angeles-based multi-media visual artist, painter and curator Dianna Cohen is best known for her two-dimensional and three-dimensional works using recycled plastic bags – sewn together – ranging from small hanging pieces to room-sized installations.

Cohen’s work has been applied to surfboards in the acclaimed group show FLOW – fine lines on water, which she also curated. In 2007, Cohen expanded into making wearable art pieces using recycled materials, including stage outfits worn by alt-rock duo The Ditty Bops and a “green carpet” dress worn by actress Rachelle Carson. Her “conscious couture” and art were featured on Ed Begley’s environmentally themed HGTV series Living With Ed and on the CBS EcoZone Project with Daisy Fuentes.

Other projects include:  The Curse, a book of stories at: and Citizenlove, new textiles based on her plastic work and viewable at:

Solo shows include post in Los Angeles, Art Affairs in Amsterdam, Sutton Gallery in Melbourne, Frank Pictures in Santa Monica and Elizabeth Budia Gallery in Barcelona. She has shown in group exhibitions at Affirmation Arts in NYC, Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, the Bronx Museum in NYC and the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida,

OCCCA in Orange County, SPARC in Venice, CA and Art From Scrap in Santa Barbara.

In 2010, Cohen created Ocean of Plastic with students at BFIS and exhibited this at the Museum of Water in Barcelona & in The Hamptons and presented a solo exhibition of her at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University.

In 2011, Cohen’s wallflowers will be shown in the AIEP collection of the US Embassy in Tijuana, Mexico and in May, her work will be part of the inaugural exhibition Flows to Bay at MoM Museum of Monterey.

Dianna Cohen is Creative Director & co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition, a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals and the environment.

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Lynzey Culver

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories


Lynzey Culver is a senior at Thunder Mountain High School who grew up in Juneau, Alaska learning to fly fishing with her dad, as well as learning the many weaving trails that covered Juneau’s Valley and mountains. To remember her hikes she now uses photography to help her capture artistic images that tell stories rather than just a colorful or pretty image. With her photogrphy it has helped her further her passion in loving art, and helped her become more creative in other forms of art including: digital art, mixed media art, drawing, and sculpting. Although she hasn’t decided whether or not art or photography is some thing she wants to pursue after high school it will always be a hobby she enjoys.

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Susan Derges

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories


Born in 1955, Susan Derges trained as a painter before turning to photography and in particular, to the cameraless photography for which she is best known. Internationally regarded and now considered to be one of Britain’s most groundbreaking photographers, much of her recent work has been made at night, in the open air, using the natural world as her darkroom. Drawing on the work of early 19th century experimental photographers, she has created a new and unique method of image-making.

Much of Susan Derges’s work revolves around the creation of visual metaphors. These explore the relationship between the observer and the observed; the self and nature or the imagined and the ‘real’. She endeavours to manifest or capture invisible scientific and natural processes – the physical appearance of sound vibration, the evolution of frogspawn or the cycles of the moon. Her works have taken many photographic forms but she is best known for her pioneering technique of capturing the continuous movement of water by immersing photographic paper directly into rivers or shorelines. She often creates her work at night, working with the light of the moon and a hand-held torch to expose images directly onto light sensitive paper. Her practice reflects the work of the earliest pioneers of photography but is also very contemporary in its awareness of environmental issues and the complexity of its conceptual meanings.

Her work is included in many major public collections, including those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Arts Council of England; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Instutute of Chicago; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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Alexis Gillett

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories


What is an artist? Alexis always imagined an artist as someone who could not only recreate familiar images, but also put their own creative spin and personal feeling into a piece.  She had not, until very recently discovered herself in this way.  Art, to Alexis, is about self-discovery.

Alexis currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska and has found herself here.  Alaska is her newfound inspiration and the ocean has been a lingering passionate theme in Alexis’s life.  She believes we are completely connected to our waters and the understanding of this interconnectedness is essential.

She is in her senior year at Alaska Pacific University studying marine biology and has learned the importance of the sea and all its resources.  She’s thrilled to be in a place with such beautiful and thriving oceans and can only hope to convey this through art.

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Andy Hughes

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

All images are from Andy’s book ‘Dominant Wave Theory’ – published by Abrams, New York

Dockweiler Beach, Los Angeles
C-Type Digital Print 40 x 40 inches

El Segundo, Los Angeles
C-Type Digital Print 40 x 40 inches

Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles
Medium : C-Type Digital Print 40×40 inches

Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles 2
C-Type Digital Print 40 x 40 inches

Malibu Beach, Los Angeles
C-Type Digital Print 40 x 40 inches

Palos Verdes, Los Angeles
C-Type Digital Print 40 x 40 inches

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, England
C-Type Digital Print 40 x 40 inches

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, England 2
C-Type Digital Print 40 x 40 inches

Santa Monica, Los Angeles
C-Type Digital Print 40 x 40 inches


Andy Hughes was born in Castleford, England in 1966. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Wales Institute in 1989, he received a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art, London graduating with a Masters Degree in 1991. Since completing his studies he has spent the following years exhibiting and lecturing at various universities and colleges in the USA and UK.

In 2012 he will travel to Alaska, invited alongside scientists and artists he will work on a unique project titled GYREX. This is a most unique expedition and exhibition with Marine Debris as Material and Message, other participating artists are Pam Longobardi, Mark Dion, Alexis Rockman, Sonya Kelliher-Combs and scientist and author Carl Safina.

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David Liittschwager

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories


David Liittschwager is a freelance photographer who, after working with Richard Avedon in New York in the eighties, left advertising to focus on portraiture and natural history. Now a regular contributor to National Geographic Liittschwager has produced a number of books. Among his many honors is a World Press Photo Award in 2008 for his article “Marine Microfauna” in National Geographic.

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Michelle Lougee

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories


Michelle Lougee’s work is a collection of tactile pieces produced from a range of often-repurposed materials including plastic bags, fabric, cast-off electrical wires, fur, and clay. The work is based on organic form but often with an uncomfortable twist.

The delicate balance and struggle of nature versus human society and its technology is the focus of Lougee’s art. The duality of this relationship is explored in both materials and subject matter. The combination of the two factions produces mysterious yet familiar forms. For example, the labor-intensive process of transforming bags into yarn and then into artwork has produced colorful, whimsical, and lifelike interpretations of sea life including jellyfish, anemone, coral, and octopus.

Described as “very rich” and “thought provoking”, Lougee’s work forces viewers to reconcile its whimsical yet simultaneously dark nature.

Michelle Lougee is an environmental artist, sculptor and ceramicist. Her artwork has been shown in many New England museums, including the Peabody Essex Museum, Chesterwood, the Danforth Museum and the Art Complex Museum. In addition, she teaches ceramics at several local institutions. She holds a M.F.A. and a B.F.A. from Boston University and lives in Cambridge, MA with her family.

Michelle Lougee joined Boston Sculptors in 2004.

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