The Coracle and the Copper Bell

Catalog, Collection / Tuesday, May 7th, 2024

Poems to Carry Skin and Soul

Step away from the shore and into the journey with Bethany Lee’s The Coracle and the Copper Bell. This collection speaks of summer plums and starlight, of circuses and saltwater, all pointing to the work it takes to weave body and soul into a trustworthy vessel, capable of navigating the currents of a life with curiosity and courage. 

These poems will carry you through the undoing to the essence beyond. You will find here a faithful companion to buoy you in the lifelong voyage of becoming.

If you’ve come to expect gentle advice for being human from Bethany Lee, you will not be disappointed. This third collection of poetry is bold-with more whimsy, more experimentation, more prose-but contains the same driving force of grounded hope taking root through the tangle of the everyday, the wonderful, the terrible.

Joann Renee Boswell, author of Meta-Verse!: it’s going to be interesting to see how yesterday goes

Bethany’s poems are filled with questions that draw the reader in to “make meaning of the mystery.” These are deeply personal poems about her transformations, anchored in the belief that “there is no way back/ there is only beyond” and “what lives in the deep/ always comes/ to the surface to breathe.” You can feel the wind in the sails, taste the salt in the spray, and know the movement through the storm in body and in heart. 

Peg Edera, author of Love Is Deeper than Distance

Bethany Lee’s third book of poems takes me out of my daily existence in poems that are also boats that are also meditations. There’s more here than just sailing, of course. Bethany explores permission, being, becoming, and the hard and raw anxieties of our contemporary world. But Lee’s skilled verses carry the reader safely through all the storms so that, instead of drowning, we can feel.

Katie Kulla, author of Farm Raised Kids and illustrator of Edible: 70 Sustainable Plants That Are Changing How We Eat

These poems succeed in taking us to new places: a gift of pop rocks candy for the worst day at sea, a moment at the campfire where “everyone you see is safe and kind and good,” the sensation of one plucked harp string, or what it must feel like to be a tree. The Coracle and the Copper Bell, filled with lessons about staying afloat and becoming what you will become, is a healing in this hectic world.

Sue Fagalde Lick, author of Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano

When the opening poem of Bethany Lee’s The Coracle and the Copper Bell proclaims, “I write to build/a boat for all of it,” we are prepped for what to expect from this lyrically wise collection. “All of it” includes poems filled with joy and pain, music and family, life on land and on sea, written in

a voice that understands, “I have been ruined already for anything/ but this riotously tangled holy poet life.” This “holy poet” does not resist engaging with the complexities and contradictions that make growing up–and older–both strenuous and glorious. And readers will not resist

applauding when she says, “If part of why / I went to sea/ was to become myself/ maybe part of what/ I brought back with me/ is the truth that/ becoming/ takes more courage/ than sailing into a storm.”

Carolyn Martin, Ph.D., educator, editor, author

Bethany Lee is courageous: how else to describe her year on a sailboat, homeschooling her children? This poetry collection reflects that courage, Lee’s willingness to confess heartbreak and joy, hope and despair, the condition of being human. The metaphor of a coracle perfectly suits these poems, as Lee mines her own life experiences to affirm what it truly means to have faith, “step(ping) out into the stars” in pursuit of truth, of beauty, of God.

Melanie Springer Mock, author of Finding Our Way Forward and Worthy

If there’s such a thing as perfect pitch in poetry, accomplished musician Bethany Lee has found it here. Just open the book anywhere and find yourself transported. Lee’s emotional range is as wide and deep as the sea.

Ellen Summerfield, Bite-sized poems: An anthology

Bethany Lee

lives and writes in Lafayette, Oregon, drawing inspiration from her travels by sea, her experiences as a hospice harpist, and her work as a composer, collaborative pianist, and Quaker minister. She makes a home at the edge of the woods with her husband Bryan, with whom she has two grown children.