Loon Lore: Poetry and Prose

William Sullivan

Illustrator: Leslie Tryon

48 pp.

6.75 x 8, Paperback




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The elusive loon—here one moment, gone the next—shows the limits of what we can grasp, and the temporary nature of what is.

“Think back––leap forward.” In stirring poetry and thought-provoking essays, William Sullivan interweaves the long, mythical history of the loon with our own troubling present and precarious future, linking us, our history, and our fate to that of the fabled and elusive seabird.


William Sullivan before retiring to Westerly, Rhode Island, taught English and American studies at Keene State College. He has co-authored two volumes in the Twayne series on American poetry: Modern American Poetry 1865 – 1950, and Containing Multitudes, Poetry in the United States Since 1950; and has co-produced two documentary films: Here I am, Send Me: The Journey of Jonathan Daniels and The Farmer is the Man. Sullivan’s poetry has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Origami Poems, Providence Journal, Westerly Sun, Wickford Art Association: Poetry and Art, and Babel Fruit.

Leslie Tryon is the author and illustrator of the Albert series of books for children, including the ALA Notable book, Albert’s Alphabet. She also illustrated a series written by Alma Flor Ada, and created drawings for the Los Angeles Times as well as numerous children’s magazines.


Praise for Loon Lore:

 “In one of Bill Sullivan’s poems, embraced as are all the verses in Loon Lore by the author’s complementary essays and by Leslie Tryon’s inspired illustrations, the speaker recalls Henry David Thoreau’s attempt to look into “the fiery red eyes” of a loon to discover what birds and humans have in common. The loon, recognizing the transcendentalist’s pathetic fallacy for what it was, outsmarted Thoreau. In contrast, Sullivan is sly enough to reveal the loon’s correspondences with the rest of us and with the earth we share, not by holding the animal in the palm of his hand, but by liberating it to fly across the pages of this singularly beautiful book.”

—James Penha, poet and editor of The New Verse News

“The old music of the loon is the story of the world inside the world, a story of muskeag tamarack, spruce taiga, dandle of moonlight, something haunting beyond our understanding. Bill Sullivan captures the loon’s essential mystery in this brilliant mix of poems, stories, essays, legends, and sometimes unsettling facts – all enriched by great drawings, all awakening the memory of something fading to a silence made clear with the telling.”

 —Tom Chandler, Rhode Island poet laureate emeritus

“In eloquent essays and exquisite verse, Bill Sullivan paints a kaleidoscopic portrait of the loon, a bird of vivid colors, a haunting call, and primeval mystery. Beautifully illustrated by Leslie Tryon, Loon Lore is a rousing call to action to protect this familiar winter visitor to the South County shoreline.”

     —Betty J. Cotter, author of The Winters and Roberta’s Woods


Grove Street Books is an imprint of Bauhan Publishing