by Elizabeth S.E. McBride
with artwork by Connie Cronenwett
A collection of poems, prose, and paintings inspired by the village of Glen Arbor, Michigan and the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, voted “Most Beautiful Place in America” in 2011.
It’s not always easy to slow down, unplug, and take notice of the gifts nature offers. Elizabeth McBride’s poetry and prose invites you to bear witness to the wonder of that which surrounds us. Whether you enjoy this book right where you are, or bring it with you to take your own poetic tour of the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and its surrounding regions, you can match the cited locations to the poems and prose they inspired, and experience what is here, what was here before you, and what is changing right beneath your feet and overhead. Let the artwork and verse herein, whet your appetite for discovery, as you venture into this place “Most Beautiful!”
About the Author
Elizabeth S.E. McBride’s poetry is often an experience of walking in this world as a careful and curious observer—the natural result of her reverence for the wonders of creation and those with whom it is shared. Her poetry can be seen in the following literary journals and publications: Dunes Review, Louisiana Literature, Third Wednesday, Red River Review, Seeding the Snow, Scintilla, Poetry Breakfast, and Peninsula Poets.
About the Artist
Connie Cronenwett lives in Dexter, Michigan. She is a landscape painter, working in oil and pastel. When painting, her goal is to go beyond the appearance of a scene, to somehow capture the spirit of a place. She was an artist-in-residence through the Glen Arbor Art Association in 2013. Her work can always be found at WSG gallery in Ann Arbor, MI.
In her luminous work Most Beautiful, Elizabeth McBride’s elegant and earthbound writing creates that uncommon experience only a fine artist can give us: She makes permanent what we experience for but a moment. Her vigilance honors an area honored, but her work goes beyond affirming what we already know: that this area is “beautiful.” Revealing what that deeply means, that is the job of the real writer. And McBride is that real writer. Elizabeth McBride gently calls our attention to and gives us the only way we can “be there” when we aren’t. “Lake, breezes,/ scents of cedar and evergreens,/ and the sounds of seas remain—” because Elizabeth McBride has made it so.
—Jack Ridl, author of Practicing to Walk Like a Heron
and Saint Peter and the Goldfinch
From Lake Street in Glen Arbor, to the footprints along the shoreline at Sleeping Bear Dunes, on the wings of the endangered Plover, or “in the wild silence of the woods” Elizabeth McBride’s poems allow us to live more fully involved with what transcends our daily lives. For every question of endangerment, including the human spirit, the land answers. For every wearing away, McBride show us a becoming of newness. The way “The commonplace, when given our attention, never lacks for miracles”—and, indeed, McBride shows us those miracles in every poem.
Glacier history, evidence of the harvesting and re-growth of timber, “the cathedral of the barn,” the massive dunes, deer prints, bird song, all are here to honor the awe of what was, still is, will always be—miraculous. What a pleasure, a relief, to experience the stillness of connection these poems and paintings offer.
—Joy Gaines-Friedler, author of Capture Theory
Elizabeth McBride’s book of poems is truly a sensory pleasure to read, whether one is experiencing the Glen Arbor area for the first time or for a lifetime. Glen Arbor in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been identified in a Good Morning America fake news contest as “The Most Beautiful Place in America.” It is a well-deserved title, however earned, as one can see in this evocative poetry. From the Prologue to the final poem, McBride takes us on a glorious tour of the area: to the farms of Port Oneida, to the little town of Empire, to the vistas of Pierce Stocking Drive and the thrill of Pyramid Point and its shipwrecks.
In gale winds or calm there is beauty to behold at the lakeshore. The Manitou Islands hold the secret for the ages. We remember the Indian tale of the Sleeping Mother Bear and her two cubs, lost to the storm, but who give us the powerful message of motherly love. Through McBride’s heartfelt and warm observations of nature and “found objects” at the lakeshore, we sense her profound love for all things natural from the tiniest pebble, to the piles of shells on the beach, to the helpless piping plovers born on the beach whose feathers she carefully collects.
All of our senses are brought into play in these poems as the author strolls the beaches, writing, looking, listening in wonderment. May you too, bring home a feather.
—Betsy Wagner, Glen Arbor Arts Center