The person behind a book blurb: Luci Shaw

Today I'm starting a series on this blog where, over the next 8 weeks or so, I'll shine the spotlight on the generous individuals who have written an endorsement, aka blurb, for Finding Livelihood. First up, Luci Shaw.

Luci Shaw.jpg

Luci Shaw is a poet, author, and essayist who has written or contributed to scores of books; her website lists at least 30. I first became aware of Luci after discovering Petoskey stones in the mid-1990s. My family and I had been camping along the shore in Petoskey, Michigan, and I heard people talking about the stones that miraculously change appearance when wet, and, even more so, when polished. While the stones look like ordinary gray rock when dry, dip them in water or polish them and watch their true identity of fossilized coral emerge. I was quickly hooked on the search for them and came home with a nice collection. Shortly afterward, I heard someone mention Luci's poetry collection, Polishing the Petoskey Stone, and I bought a copy right away.


An excerpt from her poem, "Polishing the Petoskey Stone":

My friend says, "Spit on it, and rub
the surface. See the pattern?"
In its hammock of line, I lift the pebble
the color of a rain cloud, cradle it
a thousand miles. Holding

the steering wheel in one hand, the grey
oval curved to my other palm, we move
a ripple across the map to Kansas, while
I rub its softness in ellipses
against a rough shore of denim and wool.

Luci Shaw is an adventurer and a naturalist. She is a risk-taker. She is a thinker and a doer, ever committed to the integration of art and faith. She is also an encourager in the most active sense; she is continually fanning the flames of or giving a push to those coming up behind her. In fact, she funds an annual summer-long scholarship at Image journal to "expose a promising undergraduate student to the world of literary publishing and the nonprofit arts organization ... and the dialogue about art and faith."

Since the time of the Petoskey stones, I have had the deep privilege of getting to know Luci, a development for which I'm most grateful, through the Glen Workshops and the SPU MFA program, where she served as a chaplain for several residencies. All those years ago, after camping at the Petoskey shore, I followed her example of rubbing a stone on my jeans while driving to coax out the coral's shine. Now she is to me a role model for writing and for living.

From her book Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit:

The Almighty, in his intimate immanence and inscrutable otherness, who dwells in swift light and thick darkness, who administers tender love and implacable wrath, is mirrored in the profundities of philosophy and science, the fathomless ocean of ideas and words wrapped in mystery, the patterns of order observable in the deep forest, the wide wasteland. God is the Lord of creation. He is infinite, but in the finite creation, we may spy out his footprints.

A Glen Workshop week traditionally ends with an anointing service. A hands-on blessing is given to those who have been there working on their writing, their photography, their painting or sculpture. A precious memory I have is Luci streaking oil on my forehead in the shape of a cross. Having her endorsement on this new book feels like a continuation of that moment.

Luci's most recent books are Adventure of Ascent: Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey and Scape: Poems. She is a writer in residence at Regent College in British Columbia. Visit her website at:

Here's what Luci Shaw wrote about Finding Livelihood:

"Nordenson describes wrestling with work as with a large force that wants to have its way with you, even as you want to have your way with it. This wrestling, sinewy and particular as its wrestler, enlarges us as we read our way into her life with its incisive insights and explorations. Can one wrestle meditatively? This author has learned the art and we are the benefactors."


[Photo: Luci Shaw, used with permission.]