Poet Seabird Island

Available for purchase March 30th 2024


Publisher: Boats Against the Current.

I was first published by Boats Against the Current in Jan 2022 with two poems The Grief Stone and Towards the Drowned World and for the second time in November 2022 with Telesthesia and Starboard Under Canvas, these poems in their first ever print journal. Editor McKenna Deen then approached me in early 2023 asking if I might have an idea for a new chapbook, which could be the first one for Boats Against the Current. Having published two chapbooks in the previous year I was really looking to work on a full collection but this was a very tempting offer and I did have an idea that might fit.

I asked for some time to think about what I might do and came up with the idea of Poet Seabird Island. This was a phrase that had been in my mind for a while and I had not known what to do with but I decided to use it as a working title and see what I could come up with under the three sections. Island was the section that took the most work to complete. For the poet section I already had quite a few poems and ideas that would fit, Seabird was quite a bit of research and the pile of poems grew quickly.

But the Island section was proving tricky. I wasn't quite sure why, I love islands, visiting them, reading about them, dreaming about them, looking at them from my coast - I can see two within a short walk from my house - and of course, writing about them, so I'm not sure why it was so difficult. Poem after poem didn't work out and long after the first two sections were complete I was still wrestling with the third. In June my mother visited and we arranged a trip to the Isle of May, had good weather and looked at lots of puffins, cormorants, gannets and many others, the sky filled with fabulous seabirds. Guess what? More seabird poems. Better seabird poems. Still not many island poems.

In the summer of 2023 my husband and I went to visit the Isle of Arran for the first time. We loved it, the weather was great, the dreaded Scottish midges didn't appear and we both travelled well, not a given from the mainland to the islands on an hour long ferry ride. Still no island poems. In early August we visited Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the Northumberland coast. It felt different to the Scottish islands, busier, less wildlife, more touristy. We left a little despondent and still short of island poems, so we went back to Arran. And finally with Paddling on the Shores of the Wild World I had an island poem breakthrough looking at the mysterious and distant Ailsa Craig from Kildonan Beach. I suppose I just needed to feel I really was on an island, with my feet in the sand and in the ocean, in order to write lots of poems about islands.

I hope you enjoy reading them.


Selected blurbs:

An intelligent and emotional collection laced with salt, Poet Seabird Island teems with stunning poetry fresh from the shoreline. Sarah Wallis has dug her hands into the beach and lifted treasures which she presents with clear eloquence and wonderful symbolism. I devoured every page. Seb Reilly, Editor of Seaside Gothic

Sarah Wallis’ poetry shows a keen eye and ear for the wonders of the marine world, and a well-honed instinct for myth and story. From school dinnertime fishcakes to the free natural theatre of diving gannets, she understands the depth of our connection to the sea and just how vulnerable that connection has become. Here are poems that lift the heart and remind us that by looking, listening and, yes, loving, we too can ‘make waves’ and renew our ties to the shorelines and oceans that have given us so much. Chris Powici, Poetry Editor, Paperboats

Sarah Wallis' poems carry the energy of flight — ascending with grace, adrift in windstreams, dotting islands in their travel. The poems in this collection offer their journeys to the reader: tales of migration, transformation, and the cycles of leaving and returning. These poems find their home in the air and on the waves. Aaron Lelito, Editor in Chief of Wild Roof Journal