Devreaux Baker


Devreaux Baker

Devreaux Baker's work has appeared in many anthologies and journals in the U.S. and abroad including; The American Voice, Borderlands, High Plains Literary Review, The Pacific Review, Inheritance Of Light Anthology, The Guadalupe Review, Penumbra, Oxygen, The Reater Literary Journal, and The Paris/Atlantic Journal and Arabesques Magazine.

Her poetry collections include Light At The Edge (1993), Beyond the Circumstance of Sight (2009), and Animal Mineral Vegetable (forthcoming in 2010). She was one of the editors of Wood, Water, Air and Fire, The Anthology of Mendocino County Women.

She has been awarded Writing Residencies at The MacDowell Colony and The Hawthornden Castle in Scotland for her book-length prose poem, Jeanne D’Arc, and received three California Arts Councils Awards to produce The Voyagers Radio Program of Original Student Writing, which aired on KZYX Public Radio. Most recently she has been awarded a 2008 Can Serrat Writing Award in Spain, and a 2009 Helene Wurlitzer Writing Fellowship in Taos.

She was one of the founders of the Loire Valley Writers Retreat in France. Devreaux currently produces the Mendocino Coast Poetry Reading Series which is supported by Poets and Writers Inc., with a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

Along with the writing of poetry, Devreaux works as a private therapist and combines poetry and creative writing with therapy. She taught poetry in the schools for many years as part of the California Poets In schools Program. She earned her master’s degree in Counseling at Sonoma State University. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Barry Schrager.


  • Red Willow People (2010)

    Red Willow People Cover

    A brava book of poems by a poet who knows how to surrender to all that metaphor can still make happen. The lyrics in this work are not merely receptions of the Native American dimension though which Devreaux Baker's pen is venturing and whose spirit and silences she shapes so well. There is an invisible river that is the flow of the process of poetry itself, streaming under and within and around all the particles of her language and her light, that deepens one's experience as one reads because she is returning the land that is Native America to the People she enunciates, in the form of a book, and not simply the book that she's written. And that is the wonderful mystery this work evokes.

    One enters Devreaux Baker’s haunting new collection, Red Willow People, as one would sacred terrain. These poems are spare, tactile and textured, but they hover between worlds: “I do not know why the ghost of the woman from the pueblo // visits me,” one speaker confesses. This visitation is a gift, but it carries with it the task of journeying to that “core place, where bone meets spirit,” “the other side of air,” through time and “beyond knowing.” The Red Willow People is a book of visionary medicine, for though Baker walks through “the thin field of grief,” she does so to instruct and heal, walking in a rare beauty and in magic to write these gorgeously wise poems.

  • Animal Mineral Vegetable (forthcoming)

    Animal Mineral Vegetable Cover

  • Beyond The Circumstance Of Sight (2009)

    Wild Ocean Press, San Francisco, Ca.

    Beyond The Circumstance Of Sight Cover

  • Wood, Water, Air And Fire (1998)

    Wood, Water, Air And Fire Cover

  • Light At The Edge (1993) Currently out of print

    Light At The Edge Cover


  • Dogs Of Mexico

    Dogs of Mexico Poem


  • The Bee-Keeper's Daughter

    The Bee-Keeper's Daugter

    The Bee-Keeper's Daughter

    Bees are drawn to the
    Center of things.
    It is nature’s way
    To bring them in close to her
    And hold them there
    Humming in place.
    So her kisses taste of honey
    Stolen after midnight
    The sweetest kind,
    And she opens herself wider each dawn
    So they can reach deeper into her body.
    Her breath on their wings
    Is a braille of light and dark.
    Their shadows remember the sun,
    Forget the moon
    In their hurry to disappear
    Before night falls
    Across their hives.

    Instruct me
    As the earth instructs the bees.
    Find me the place
    Where they hide from the moon,
    Drunk with so many sweet syllables
    Tucked into their bodies.
    Bring me into this wideness
    This curvature of space the earth offers.
    Blinded by their faith
    The bees are swept away
    Into the soft throat of day.
    Bring me with you. Take me
    Into that grammar
    Of light.

  • A Cartography Of Water

    A Cartography of Water

    A Cartography Of Water

    Water binds me to you
    Stone encased or sky-vaulted
    Rivers bind me to you with their names
    Yampa, Tigris, Euphrates, White, Red, Colorado, Snake
    Oceans bind me to the blind speech
    Of your past, the ebb and flow of the dark weight of that grief
    Manifested in the violent history of this land
    To listen to the water
    I lay my ear next to sand so
    Secrets flood my body
    Water hides nothing, in this way she surrenders time
    To motion.
    In another life we took boats down a nameless river
    We were chained in the bottoms
    Of terrible ships to suffer
    Solitude, starvation or abandonment
    Death in the land of foreigners.
    Sun, air and salt mark the lines
    Water maps on our bodies
    We settled in the elbow of the San Juan Range or on a flood plain,
    Or at the mouth
    Of a buried spring and watched how light thinned our lives
    Water did not forget to remind us how our lives were laid out against
    The life of a river.
    In this way voyage becomes a cartography
    Caressed by liquid ghosts humming a beginning in blue and an ending
    In an avalanche of green that only knows
    To follow a sky calendar.
    Water binds me to you.
    How many rivers carried the bodies of the massacred,
    Rocked lost souls to sleep or set dreamers free
    Past the color of their skin or their sexual longing
    Water binds me to the ending place where souls
    Scatter like seeds
    And all rivers trace a lifetime in rings around a blue planet,
    Circling her body like a long snake.
    I stand at the edge of the Pacific and say the words
    As though there is no distinction between dream and instinct
    As though I can contain all this wild blue longing
    By repeating the names, Russian, Eel, Little River,
    Big River, the Navarro, the Albion River.

  • This Bridge Of Dreams

    This Bridge Of Dreams

    This Bridge Of Dreams

    Only my axe against the ice mouthed pond
    Will break the spell of cold and release the water
    Waiting just beneath
    We are exhaling into sleep
    This leaning into dark unfolding
    Before us
    This is Lady Sarashina’s Bridge Of Dreams
    The journey from the land of light
    Into that place of polar scrubbed white
    Where even the hearts of magnets
    Forget their lives of metal
    Turning instead to the strange language
    Of fire on the horizon of sky
    And days that are wed to their endless cycle
    Of northern light.
    We follow the geese through some strange constellation
    Only they know the meaning of
    Signs and smells that pull them out
    Of such feathered sleep
    And slip their forms like soft gray comets
    Spinning out into the currents of unknown.
    We follow this flight
    We are exhaling at the blue hole
    We are swimming with night’s ink
    Tattooed against all our pores
    We are crossing Lady Sarashina’s
    Bridge Of Dreams.

  • Dogs Of Mexico

    Dogs Of Mexico

    Original Art by Eduardo Smissen; Translation by Paloma Baker-Thoma

    Dogs Of Mexico

    What was it about the dust
    That carved its way into my heart
    That spoke the unspeakable words
    Of the night
    Endless tears that cause the air to stop
    That break the stones
    That whisper your name
    In every bar
    That never sleeps
    That dances the dance of the newly dead
    Who do not yet realize they must cross over
    They must leave the taste of dust behind
    Forsake this land of eyes and hands
    The heat that twists its way into my hair
    Has your face
    This dream of rain
    A flood that gathers me into its arms
    These are the dogs of Mexico
    This endless roaming pack
    That stampedes my heart
    Leaves echoes of
    A thousand unnamed nights
    In your arms.

  • The Myth Of Lost Places

    The Myth Of Lost Places

    The Myth Of Lost Places

    We're lying on our bellies on the pier above the Bay
    The wood tastes like salt or was it summer
    Outside the subway station in Brooklyn ?
    You were helping an old woman
    Pull her grocery cart up the steps,
    Twilight was snagging itself
    In your hair.
    I was painting Cuba at dawn, trying to figure out
    How to paint the taste of neon streaks
    In the air, and everything existed at once
    Yet nothing existed but the tip of my brush
    Above the paper.
    It was the evening after the moths
    Beat wings against our windows laying eggs,
    When you started rowing the boat
    Out to the island and dropped anchor,
    So you could drift, think, and fall asleep,
    Dreaming about the gypsy musician who pulled you up
    On stage where you danced so hard your
    Glasses flew off, like twilight to dawn
    Or moths to light,
    Soaring above the heads of everyone you ever loved,
    Standing in circles of salt inside you,
    Blessings from the Black Madonna or the Virgin of Guadalupe
    Reunited as a myth of past places once lost
    Now found again inside you.

  • Begin



    Her bathing suit is the color of blueberries
    In spring
    And she is the first to go
    The first to give her body to the river
    So the river receives her as a gift
    Everything says begin here

    As she swims, the river opens her body
    So she takes in the color of transparent things
    Together, the woman and the water
    Form the shape of all beginning places
    Form a language only the two of them speak

    So that when it is time to go
    She pulls her clothes on over
    The voice of the river

    And in that way they become the language of nature
    And spread her word
    Bit by bit, as the woman bicycles home
    Becoming light in Redwoods


“New Year” etching by Solange Roberdeau