Sally Albiso Poetry Book Award

My poetry manuscript — The Pear Tree: Elegy for a Farm — has won the 2023 Sally Albiso Poetry Award from MoonPath Press.

I’m feeling stunned and honored and — even after a week has gone by — a bit disbelieving.

I’ve shared here some of my process in cobbling this book together, but just to recap, it’s the book that wouldn’t lie down and be “done.” Three years ago in a Hugo House course taught by Deborah Woodard, I rather shamefacedly introduced myself by saying I was working on a book of poems about losing my parents, adding, “I really should be finished with these poems.”

Deborah said, “Maybe the poems aren’t finished with you.”

That is exactly what it felt like. It’s about more than my mother and father; it’s about growing up on a farm, and it’s about giving up that farm after my dad’s death in 2010. It’s about letting go of trees, fields, cows, fences, wells, ponds, bee boxes, books, orchard trees, creeks, barns… It’s about my mother’s memory loss, and how keenly that paralleled our folding away the family place, the farm my grandfather had owned before my father owned it. It’s about…so much.

Last year I began sending the manuscript out as “Genesis” (meaning to evoke an idea of where I began, where I set out from), and despite having paid some hefty entrance fees, I withdrew it. It didn’t feel ready. Early this year I began sending it out again, rearranged, with poems added (and quite a few removed), with a stronger theme, or thread, poems about my maternal grandmother, running all the way through it, holding — I hoped — the long chronology together.

In May I reworked it yet again, and it was only then that I felt brave enough to retitle it as The Pear Tree.

I could not have been more shocked when it won. Lana Hechtman Ayers wrote in an email, “These are poems to feed the soul.”

They have certainly fed mine.

The book will be out this winter, and, never fear, I will be here, telling you all about it.


Sati Mookherjee

WAYS OF BEING, Sati Mookherjee. MoonPath Press, PO Box 445, Tillamook, OR 97141, 73 pages, $16 paper,

I am writing a “real” review of this book—Mookerjee’s second, and the winner of the 2023 Sally Albiso Award—to be posted at Escape Into Life (EIL) on May 5, 2023, its release date. So consider this a preview, my quick appreciation and shout-out to a stirring collection.

Washington State Book Award winner Sharon Hashimoto says in her cover blurb:

Rhythms, images and juxtapositions in these poems flow like waves filling and emptying, from past to present to what might be—all while glorying in occlusions. Sati Mookherjee’s lively word play questions our definitions, boundaries around spaces, and leads to fresh and original epiphanies…

“Occlusion,” a fine old word meaning “the blockage or closing of an opening, blood vessel, or hollow organ,” often used in a medical context. In these poems, where Salish Sea, tideflats, “the great lung of bay,” are loved, and desecrated like human bodies, the word is completely appropriate.

I’ll get carried away if I go on (and I want to save that for the review), so I’ll offer this short poem (some are quite long), as a teaser:


Lay your warm body on the warm earth
and sense how deep the roots go, the roots

we can’t see, think of the acres
of hot black lightless matter under your body.

I think the past is a perfectly fine place to live.
Why not be native to it, visit the present

as necessary, a tourist, in transit, on a brief journey.
I can see you’re dying. This terrarium,

even with its carefully laid nests of leaves and grass
and twigs, can’t keep you, I don’t want to keep you,

go home, back to where you need to be.

—Sati Mookherjee

I’m not sure “Ground” is the right choice—so many of the poems are grounded (deeply) in the present. These are poems of witness. A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Mookherjee enjoins us to treasure our time here, on earth, adjacent to water.

Ways of Being is available now for presale. Visit for more information. I’ll update the links when the full-length review is posted.

[Update 4.28.23] Mookherjee’s book launch is this coming Sunday in Bellingham, and you can reserve your seat now: 

My review of Ways of Being can be found here: